A “hiatus” for MSU’s and East Lansing’s folklife festival this year would be a mistake, especially since the festival has been moving in the right direction in recent years by returning to its roots as a regional chapter, as it were, of the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife. This format will not appeal to everybody, but, while P. T. Barnum’s museum aimed to draw as many suckers as possible through the turnstiles, our principal aim is education.
Since the land-grant tradition which Mark Auslander invokes to support emphasis on undergraduate students (see eastlansinginfo.org/content/museum-director-explains-folk-festival-hiatus , paragraph 13) is also about supplementary and continuing education, a folklife festival falls within the land-grant mission. And the best time for such an event is in the summer, when many people have vacation time and residence hall accommodations can be msde available for both presenters and visitors.
Here are a few suggestions worth considering:
1. In future years, combine the festival with a symposium of academic folklorists which would focus on types of activities demonstrated at the festival.
2. Cooperate and coordinate with Our Daily Work Our Daily Lives and perhaps with Summer Circle Theater.
3. Move much of the festival indoors, following the example of the new MSU Science Festival.
4. Re-think the distribution of emphasis between music and the other aspects of folklife and folklore.