The Northwest Folklife Festival is one of my favorite things about Seattle. Musicians tuck themselves into every corner of Seattle Center and positivity emerges from the typically overcast sky.


People really get an up-close look at the music they’re hearing and have an opportunity to build a direct relationship with artists of all kinds. And that’s just what’s going on in the fringe. Inside the pavilions are all sorts of cultural curiosities. Entire rooms of people singing and dancing. It’s exactly what the world needs more of. Last year Matt and I had a blast wandering around. This year poor Matt has to work every day of the festival so Jared and I went to check it out.


There were all sorts of sights to be seen. The vibe was even more relaxed and open than usual. I felt like every time we slowed down, we bumped into someone wonderful to chat with. A whole group of ladies wouldn’t let me go until I told them where I got my shoes. And dress. And hair clip. Catfight Craft, boo!



There was an entire band of marimbas with other beautiful percussion instruments oscillating around them. Good times were spinning like a red rubber ball. Corn on the cob was all the rage. Just the sheer amount of people there was wild considering Bumbershoot is concurrently happening at the Gorge.


Jared and I made a point to check out all the shops and find something especially great to take home to Matt. The ultimate thing would’ve been a poster of this badass image, but they didn’t have any. We ended up finding a hand-carved wooden pipe for him.

Speaking of pipes, it seemed kind of odd the way police officers were stalking pot smokers. Everywhere we went groups of 2-3 police officers were writing tickets to anyone smoking joints or pipes while vaporizer pens went unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not of a fan of smoking around kids and whatnot, it was just entirely different from all the years before. It’s odd that before marijuana was legal police officers stood on the perimeter and gave zero fucks and now that it is, they’re just casually handing out tickets. What will HempFest be like?


I found a set of keys that didn’t appear to belong to anyone near us, so I turned it into the police and they were pretty nice guys who were keen to not just turn them in to lost and found, but scout around to see who they belonged to. So, you know, that’s a better encounter than a lot of people my color have had recently. #dontshoot


This year was about more than just music, though. Poetry was all over the scene and people lined up to have words written by this duo. Custom poetry fresh off the typewriter!

We enjoyed the general cuteness and even saw some guys going at it on the slopes of the skate park.


I love that even as rents rise and traffic worsens Seattle is still very much the city of weirdos I fell in love with. Why, yes, sir, I will smile back at you. How did yo know I needed one?




Author: Brianna Wray

I'm an artist in Seattle just living the dream.


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