Texas Folklife Festival
by Shannon Keith, Collections Assistant
I hope many of you had a chance to enjoy the 2010 Texas Folklife Festival which took place earlier in June at the Institute of Texan Cultures. The Festival showcases the food, crafts and performances of the diverse people of Texas, and has been a significant part of summer in San Antonio for nearly forty years. Proceeds from food and ticket sales go to support the cultural groups that participate in the event.
In 1968, the Institute of Texan Cultures arranged a Texas delegation to the second Festival of American Folklife organized by the Smithsonian Institution. The ITC Exhibitions Coordinator, O.T. Baker, who coordinated the Texas exhibit in Washington, was inspired to arrange a similar event to celebrate the cultural heritage of Texas. The first Texas Folklife Festival, which took place in 1972, was so popular that many of the food booths ran out of food two nights in a row! The ITC also recouped the cost of the festival with ticket sales, paving the way for the next year’s festival.
After the success of the first year, organizers optimistically planned for high attendance to the festival in 1973. At the last minute, Hurricane Delia made a surprise turn north toward San Antonio. The first two days of the Festival saw drizzle, periodic downpours and winds that knocked over tents and vender stalls. However, determined staff and participants kept the show going for the visitors who braved the storm. The sun finally came out for the last two days of the Festival and throngs of attendees arrived. Still, the ITC lost $27,000 due to the storm. Despite the early set back, the Festival continued and today attracts more than 60,000 people per year.
Follow the links below to articles about the Festival throughout the years.
2009: Quick Facts. Institute of Texan Cultures. 6/1/2009. http://www.texancultures.com/PDF/QuickFacts2009.pdf (retrieved 6/23/2010).
38th Annual Texas Folklife Festival. Institute of Texan Cultures. http://texancultures.com/tff/tff2009/ (retrieved 6/14/2010).
Texas Folklife Festival Annual Report, 1972. University of Texas at San Antonio: Institute of Texan Cultures: Texas Folklife Festival Department Records, UA 15.01.09, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Texas Folklife Festival Annual Report, 1973. University of Texas at San Antonio: Institute of Texan Cultures: Texas Folklife Festival Department Records, UA 15.01.09, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.