Festival and Celebration


As Stephen Colbert says, “Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America’s obesity statistics. Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.” … As a folklorist, I’m often interested in the context of human events. Besides, the what that happened, I want to know about the who, where, when, why, and how. Large celebrations almost always include food. Thanksgiving is the one that’s about food and lots of it!

Long Ago and Far Away

In February 1901, a group of businessmen representing the recently incorporated Saratoga Floral Association visited New Orleans to observe Mardi Gras and to purchase the floats and costumes from that year’s Rex Pageant…. The floats were to be used for Saratoga’s fete, which was planned as a four-day event starting on September 2 with a ball to be held at Convention Hall and concluding on September 5….

Low Bridge, Everybody Down!

Canal season may be over, but at The Erie Canal Museum in November 2012, the music of the Canal resounded in “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!: An Erie Canal Music Celebration.” The two-day public celebration, co-organized by The Erie Canal Museum and The New York Folklore Society, was the first-ever event devoted exclusively to an exploration of the rich musical heritage created, developed, and transmitted by means of the Erie Canal. Workshops, concerts, presentations, discussions, and displays provided activities that appealed to a wide variety of audiences.

Miller’s Mills’ Ice Harvest

As many of us in the Northern parts of the country push
through the winter’s chilly wind, sleet, and snow with the same
determination our ancestors did, looking back at history reminds us that our ancestors had “harvest” on their minds. An ice harvest.
Unadilla Lake in Miller’s Mills, where the ice comes from. For two centuries in the winter, the people of Miller’s Mills have come to Unadilla Lake with long saws, pikes, and tongs to cut pond ice, and then store it for refrigeration needs in warmer months

My Menstruation Ceremony

At the time that the menstruation ceremony was to begin, we all took our mats and blankets to the unfinished concrete balcony of the house, with 360-degree views. Juana had a small bonfire going. She played the bowls. She put crowns of marigolds on our heads. We drank water out of plastic cups, water that had been purified in the singing bowls.

Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival, 2022

The 2022 Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival was a spectacular sequel to the first festival hosted in 2021. We were thrilled that Mohawk Valley-based photographer Kevin Hoehn made the trip to Albany to photograph our event. There he found the crafts, arts, music, and dance from the communities who have made a home from New York’s Montgomery to Columbia Counties.

Fair Fotos

Through the lens of Clifford Oliver’s camera, the ubiquitous sights of the county fair are transformed into timeless nods to rural living.

The Celebration of Pinkster in New York State

The Celebration of Pinkster in New York State

Written by guest author, Chief Baba Neil Clarke The Pinkster Festival is a very important 350-year-old, but little known, Africanized celebration which took place annually in the Hudson River Valley region, including the N.Y.C. area for almost two hundred years. ...

Vejigante Masks of Emil Droz Torres

The papier-mâché vejigante masks of Amil Droz Torres, an artist from Puerto Rico who also worked part-time in Saratoga Springs “were an important component of the Carnaval de Vejigantes, the annual celebration held in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Begun in 1991, but with roots...

Sesame Flyers International

From the viewpoint of Sesame Flyers International, a nonportit organization providing social and cultural programs for Brooklyn’s Flatbush and Canarsie residents, Caribbean festival events are year-round. Martinez profiles this community organization and its role maintaining tradition.