Peru show­cased in Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST - BY BRETT ZONGKER

Peru’s artists, cul­tures and fa­mous foods are be­ing fea­tured in the Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val this year on the Na­tional Mall as the South Amer­i­can na­tion aims to boost tourism and cul­tural ex­change.

More than 150 artists and par­tic­i­pants trav­eled from Peru to stage the fes­ti­val open­ing Wed­nes­day near the U.S. Capi­tol. This year’s event fo­cuses ex­clu­sively on Peru, while past fes­ti­vals have fea­tured mul­ti­ple coun­tries.

The Smith­so­nian-pro­duced fes­ti­val has drawn a mil­lion visi­tors in the past but is much smaller this year, tak­ing up less space on the grassy mall while much of the park’s turf is be­ing re­stored. Part of the Peru­vian show­case will be staged in­side the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian, which will also host a new ex­hi­bi­tion on the Inca trail. The fes­ti­val runs June 24-28 and July 1-5.

Peru is one of the world’s most eco­log­i­cally and cul­tur­ally di­verse coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to cu­ra­tors. The fes­ti­val theme, “Peru: Pachamama,” or mother earth, presents Peru’s con­nec­tions to na­ture and 12 com­mu­ni­ties rang­ing from fish­er­men to dancers.

Luis Miguel Castilla,

Peru’s am­bas­sador to the U.S., said visi­tors may be sur­prised to dis­cover Peru’s fu­sion of cul­tures, which in­cludes in­flu­ences from Africa, China and Ja­pan, along with its Span­ish colo­nial her­itage. That makes Peru a melt­ing pot sim­i­lar to the United States, he said.

“It’s not your stereo­typ­i­cal view — what you would think about Peru,” Castilla told The As­so­ci­ated Press of the fes­ti­val pro­gram. “Peru is such a di­verse coun­try with three main ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gions but with thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ties that have their own iden­tity. I think it’s a mix­ture of mu­sic, art­work, sto­ry­telling, work­shops and ob­vi­ously our gas­tro­nom­i­cal trea­sures.”

One sec­tion will fea­ture the cre­ation of a braided sus­pen­sion rope bridge that is re­built ev­ery year by com­mu­ni­ties in the An­dean province of Canas — a tra­di­tion that spans 600 years. Once fin­ished, parts of the bridge will be kept at the Smith­so­nian.

Con­certs and spe­cial events will be held each evening. The fes­ti­val will also fea­ture a sec­tion de­voted to Peru­vian cui­sine, in­clud­ing demon­stra­tions of how quinoa and ce­viche are pre­pared. Peru is fa­mous for its fresh seafood and pisco brandy and now is home to some of the world’s top restau­rants.

Peru­vian of­fi­cials hope the fes­ti­val might spark in­creased tourism from U.S. visi­tors, Castilla said. But they won’t be pro­mot­ing fa­mous In­can sites as Machu Picchu, long the coun­try’s pri­mary at­trac- tion. In­stead, tourism of­fi­cials are fo­cused on other sites unique to Peru, such as the Ama­zon jun­gle, Lake Tit­i­caca and the Colca Canyon, one of the deep­est in the world.

About 500,000 U.S. tourists visit Peru each year, and that num­ber has been grow­ing, tourism of­fi­cials said. The fes­ti­val, Castilla said, “will re­ally open your ap­petite to go and learn more.”

AP

1. Chil­dren learn a Peru­vian dance at the Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val in Washington, Wed­nes­day, June 24. 2. Chil­dren paint on a graf­fiti wall at the Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val in Washington, Wed­nes­day. 3. La Con­tradanza per­form­ers cross the Na­tional Mall at the Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val in Washington, Wed­nes­day.

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