The University of Missouri is going to Washington.
For the first time, MU has been invited to take part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival exposition on D.C.’s National Mall. Started by the Smithsonian Institution in 1967, the annual summer event highlights aspects of American and international culture. The underlying message is applauding diversity, education and ingenuity.
This year’s theme is “Campus and Community: Public and Land-grant Universities and the USDA at 150” — that is, 150 years after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was founded and when the Morrill Act was created to support higher education through a gift of, or receiving proceeds from selling, federal land.
Besides MU, about 25 other public land-grant institutions are taking part, including the University of California at Davis, University of Florida, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, West Virginia University and the University of Hawaii.
The festival is presented by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and runs June 27–July 1 and July 4–8. Mizzou will present Missouri history and culture beneath a 20-by-30-foot tent.
Washington, D.C., is a major tourist attraction during summer, and about 1 million people from around the world are expected to attend the festival.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to explain to folks why land-grant public universities are so important and that they are endowed to serve the people,” said Lisa Higgins, director of Missouri Folk Arts Program in the Museum of Art and Archaeology.
“People will see how we are striving to serve campus and communities across the state, country and internationally,” she said.
The festival will feature four themes that reflect the work of public land-grant universities and the USDA: Reinventing Agriculture, Sustainable Solutions, Transforming Communities and Building on Tradition.
Mizzou will be part of Building on Tradition. Among the booths beneath its tent are a food kitchen, Missouri produce, cheese making, wine tasting and agriculture displays. MU experts will be on hand to talk about Missouri history and agriculture.
Participants dressed in period attire will discuss early life in Ste. Genevieve, the European settlement along the Mississippi River established in 1735 before Missouri was a state.
At the festival, musicians and dancers will perform at the Justin S. Morrill Performing Arts Center; a Missouri traditional band is slated for a couple shows.
Alumni can reconnect and share memories at Alumni Hall. And an area called the Commons will be dedicated to promoting dialogue about university issues.
Among the 17 people working the MU tent, 11 are employed either on campus or at an MU Extension office.