Takoma Park Folk Festival Celebrates Music, Dance and … a Birthday

The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a celebration for the community and the entire DC region, but for one family it’s become a personal celebration as well.

The festival will be held on Sunday, September 10 at Takoma Park Middle School, and right in the middle of it the Novey-Suzman Family of Takoma Park will celebrate the second birthday of their daughter Cora. The festival starts at 10:30 a.m. with songs by the DC Labor Chorus, followed by the first stage performances at 11 a.m. The festival ends at 6:30 p.m.

Noticing last year that the festival “very conveniently” fell on the same weekend as their daughter’s first birthday, Beth Novey and her husband Dan Suzman decided to invite the stroller-and-blankie set to join them for the afternoon. They and their guests enjoyed it so much that it’s going to become their tradition. “We will be celebrating Cora’s 2nd birthday at the festival again this year with a few dozen of her closest toddler friends and her grandma’s legendary almond bundt cake,” Novey said.

As hosts of a free and family-friendly event, festival organizers are accustomed to attendance by many families with young children. But the large group of them congregating for Cora’s birthday last year was an unusual sight, said Joy Markowitz, a board member.

“Mid-afternoon last year, suddenly there was a group of 20 or 30 toddlers and parents having a big picnic near one of the stages,” Markowitz said. “When we asked what was going on, we found out it was the first birthday party for Cora—such a great idea! We’re delighted they’re coming back.”

Meanwhile, festival leaders guarantee that people who aren’t on Cora’s exclusive birthday invitation list will find more than enough fun and entertainment at the festival. Six stages (indoors and outside) will host 42 performances, and a juried crafts show has more than 40 artisans as well.

“We’ve got a great program,” said Robin Stearn, festival chair. “We worked really hard to build a highly diverse lineup and to bring in many folks who have not been onstage at the festival in the past. Whatever you like in the big, wide world of folk music, you’ll find it.”

The stages will showcase contemporary and traditional American folk bands from the greater DC region, bursting with blues, jazz, rock and bluegrass influences, among others. Also, more than a dozen singer-songwriters will perform songs of political conscience, personal reflection and humor. Plus, acclaimed ensembles will play traditional music from Greece, Peru, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Chinese opera.

“There’s wonderful music, both for listening and audience participation,” said Stearn. “But the Takoma Park Folk Festival is much more than that. Stay all day—you’ll never run out of things to enjoy. Have a meal and treats from our wonderful food vendors. Buy something at the crafts show. Check out community groups with environmental, religious, athletic and other interests. Visit with friends and neighbors you’ll inevitably see. And, yes, have a birthday party if you wish!”

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