Bolivian Traditions Featured at Richmond Folk Festival

The Richmond Folk Festival drew over 200,000 visitors this past weekend. Having completed its 11th year, the festival has grown from its early days of six to eight thousand visitors to what it is now. And, what it is now is one of the largest folk festivals in the country with a diverse array of musicians, dancers, artisans and food vendors offering festival-goers a glimpse into cultures from all over the world.

The culture of Bolivia was featured at this year’s festival with a pavilion displaying costumes from the rich tradition of dance in Bolivia. Ms. Nelly Zapata, President of Comite Pro Bolivia based in Arlington, Va, explained the various traditional folkloric dances and how each costume relates to the various dances. Visitors were also able to learn about various foods used in traditions and interact with William Pozo-Zarate who is a composer, performer and teacher of Bolivian instrumental music while he explained the making of traditional Andean wind instruments. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, home to the largest Bolivian community outside of Bolivia.

Visitors also were also able to participate in a Mesa ceremony led by Ms. Julia Garcia. She is a Spanish teacher in Arlington, Va and, since 1997, she has served as Director of the Sociedad Cultural Tradiciones Bolivianas. The group dedicates itself to preserving and presenting the folkloric dances of Bolivia.

Highlighting Saturday’s offerings was a parade of Bolivian dancers marching in colorful costumes with unmatched energy along the festival streets with many of the thousands of visitors applauding non-stop.

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