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John McLaughlin and Jamie Downs, Editors


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Takoma Park Folk Festival 2004

See, spoze you were in  middle school… (if you’re not from the US of A, that means maybe 12 to 14, maybe 13 to 15 – those years matter, you know - and then on to high school, like senior secondary if you were in Scotland, okay?)

And one weekend a year, something happened. A folk festival invaded your school grounds. Starting up on the flat ground above the school, where there were maybe portable classrooms that maybe someday would become permanent or just disappear, but right now you don’t know, and spreading across the tennis court and disappearing into the grove of trees next to it, klezmer music and face painters and story tellers would appear from nowhere…..

MiraMarKlezmers
"Mr Don" Bridges

And then going across the parking lot, to where the local buses would run free round trips from the subway that went downtown to the Washington Mall and back, but for this day also extended up from the subway station, and the buses ran a free loop to your school parking lot – hold on! – and right where they dropped people off, there was a blues stage – “The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage,” the sign said – and then all along from there past the doors into the school, and all around and along the parking lot, food booths and craft booths, and booths with ads for private schools and churches and environmental causes – no, wait, I’m not making this up – right into the very doors of the school itself…..

Hillary Steel, Weaver
"Focus" among the Non-Profit Booths

And all along the corridors, and into the cafeteria and the gymnasium and the assembly rooms and classrooms and along the corridors, with Bulgarian singers and Cajun dancers in big circles….

Kids Enjoy Cajun Dancing and Bulgarian Singers Slaveya Chorus

 And spilling out the back door of the school, and tumbling all the way down the terraces on the other side of the school, to a country-western-blues singer, and even that announcer DJ from the Saturday night show your folks listen to all the time…

Settle-In on the Hill
Mary Cliff of WETA

Neil and Kerri Anne Dancing to Ruthie and the Ramblers (right)

Eight stages! And who knows how many food and crafts and good works booths…. It’s all because you go to Takoma Park Middle School. Aren’t you glad?