TAKOMA PARK — Residents gathered at Takoma Park Park Middle School, Sunday afternoon, to celebrate the annual Takoma Park Folk Festival, now in its 40th year.
Established by the late former Takoma Park Mayor Sammie Abbott in 1978, the festival consisted of a single stage with a display of crafts and food.
Forty years later, the festival now includes multiple stages for music surrounded by tables for artists, writers, and community organizations across the school grounds.
Although visibly smaller than the 2017 festival, the 2018 festival featured numerous musicians, writers, potters, craft artists, photographers and painters. The festival also provided to many of the performers and participants a venue to sell their products to interested visitors.
With the possibility of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Florence, the crafts portion of the festival took place inside the school building.
Edward Allan Faine, 81, a writer and Takoma Park resident displayed numerous books ranging from children’s stories to historical narratives for adults.
An engineer by training, Faine explained that his adult books focus entirely on jazz music and its history at the White House.
One of his works titled, “Ellington at the White House 1969” discusses President Richard Nixon’s invitation of Duke Ellington, as the first African American, to perform at the White House in 1969. Although not a musician, Faine explained the lack of historical narratives on the event as his motivation to publish his book, describing it as a “monster event in 1969.”
Faine explained his interest in music writing began after an invitation to one of the White House jazz concerts in the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter. “When I thought about the event, only about eight years ago … I realized no one had written about jazz at the White House.”
One of the numerous potters in attendance, Toby Rivkin, 66, displayed numerous pieces of ceramics. Explaining that she “throws light,” Rivkin explained that her pieces are lighter than they appear in order to be practical for kitchen use.
“I care that the customer is going to have something that is going to be light enough to pick up with food and not making it too heavy,” said Rivkin, who resides in Baltimore. “I [use] as little clay as possible as I can do for as big a piece as I can make and then I trim it, which is turning it upside down and carving away … clay as close as I can to it still being functional and stable.”
Jim Fraser, 56, a beekeeper from Damascus displayed an observation colony containing honeybees attracting a number of curious onlookers.
Fraser explained the species he uses, the Italian bee, is the most common in North America for beekeeping and their demeanor is “very calm.”
He added that, unlike the typical honey in Montgomery County that is extracted from certain trees, the honey he produces contains from nectar from orchards plants.
Combing printing and photography, Silver Spring resident Steven D. Robinson, 65, photographs common objects and scenes found in nature to make three-dimensional sculptures of plants and animals.
“It all starts with a photograph … of sunsets, cloud scenes … leaves, tree bark … anything that has to do with nature.” Robinson said, explaining his artistic process. “I spray mount the image on a heavier stock paper so that I can cut it out and … form it into creatures and plants … and mount it on the original background of the photograph.”
A trained graphic artist, Robinson explained his work is heavily influenced but his prior use of X-Acto knifes when designing artwork for numerous clients.
The festival also included numerous community organizations focused on a variety of issues.
Cherie Brown, 68, is a member of the Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism, an organization dedicated to ending anti-Semitism through a coalition that includes Jewish and non-Jewish members.
Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, she explained that anti-Semitism has become increasingly overt and visible, adding “there has not been a fierce commitment to take on anti-Semitism in any strong and fierce way.”
Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research, also known as CHEER, focuses on improving the quality of life through a localized holistic approach.
Bruce Baker, 58, from Takoma Park, the organization’s executive director explained some of their programs, such as those dealing with healthy food access, helped clients with diabetes improve their symptom management.
“Nobody knows the needs or can appeal directly with people better than the people who live there,” he said. “We believe the people who are closest to the situation and the problem are the best people and should be most empowered to be able to address them.”
In response to Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) plan to widen Interstates 270 and 495, Brad German, 63, formed the community group Citizens Against Beltway Expansion to oppose the idea, adding “a lot of people don’t know this is a fast-track project that is moving forward and we want them to be aware of it.”
German, a Bethesda resident, explained the widening plan would cost $9 billion that “won’t pay for itself and is not going to deliver on any of the benefits that are being promised or make a difference for the average person’s commute.”
Though the organization is yet to make an endorsement on an alternative to highway widening, German said the solution could be a ‘multimodal’ approach with “different options to smooth and ease existing roadways and finding opportunities for expanded public transit.”
With the primary election past and no city election taking place, political candidates had a smaller presence compared to 2017.
Jae Hwang, a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Sheriff, explained the importance of the highest law enforcement officer in the County to “be out in the community.”
Seeking to challenge current Sheriff Darren Popkin (D), Hwang explained that, with his multiple experiences as a current Montgomery County Police officer, a judge advocate general in the U.S. Army Reserve and a licensed attorney in the County, he would improve school safety, authorize sheriff’s deputies to be more active in law enforcement, and improve technology across all County law enforcement agencies.
“We have to have an effective police force and we have to be very efficient and, as the sheriff, he needs to take a lead role because that what the office of the sheriff is, he represents the people.”
Hwang said the current sheriff has limited his agency to providing courthouse security, serving process matters, and handling some prisoner transports, despite having full authority as County police officers.
“We need a sheriff who is effective and does more than limiting himself to the courthouse.”
Jon Cook, 41, a Green Party candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 18, explained he attended to conduct outreach and introduce likely voters to the Green Party.
“We are the real progressive party in the state, the other two major parties do not come close to what we represent and stand for from a campaign finance platform, from an environmental standpoint, from a social justice standpoint … anything that you can name, we are in a much more compassionate progressive stance.”
Cook explained that bringing more people into the political system is one the primary goals for the party, citing the low turnout rate in state elections.