Peggy Stansbery, Contributing author
People from across the country gathered at the historic Richmond River to enjoy the variety of entertainment, food and art offered at the Richmond Folk Festival this past weekend.
One of the festival’s artists, Gene Tagaban, came from Tacoma, Wash., to perform — his shows involved aspects of his traditional culture: storytelling, dance and music, he said. he says.
Tagaban grew up in Juneau, Alaska. He is Cherokee, Tlingit, Filipino and of the Takdeintaan clan of Hoonah, Alaska. Tagaban is a storyteller, performer, trainer, teacher and mentor, he said.
Tagaban said he hopes people come to not only have fun, but to see, learn and appreciate the diversity of people who share their culture, art and talents with everyone.
Tagaban performed several times throughout the weekend. He hopes his performances have made people understand the richness and diversity of indigenous peoples and what they have to offer, he said.
“I hope people will start to recognize the history of the indigenous people of this land,” Tagaban said. “Pretty much everywhere there is a city in this country, there was an indigenous community first. I hope people will see it, realize it, become aware of it and start recognizing it.
The festival also involved many local attendees, according to the event’s website. T. Monique Hevener, a vendor at this year’s festival, is a resident of Richmond.
The Richmonder sold bath and body products from her company CitrisSan at the festival market, according to Hevener.
Hevener said she and her husband had always attended the festival, but this was her first time selling at the festival.
“It’s a wonderful event. They do a great job setting it up and the volunteers are amazing,” Hevener said. “Then there’s the diversity of music, instruments and things you’ve never heard before, it’s just awesome.”
Richmond residents and festival goers Alex Luck and Susan Lipp have come every year since the festival began, they said.
Luck said she knows people who come from out of town just to attend the festival.
“It shows that it’s a big deal and I hope there are people making it a destination because the festival deserves it,” Luck said.
The diversity of performers and atmosphere is a highlight of the festival, Lipp said. The festival aligns with what has happened in Richmond in recent years by highlighting and celebrating the diversity of Richmond, according to Lipp.
“I think the wonderful thing is that we had three years of a national folk festival and were able to sustain it for 15 years after that,” Lipp said. “For Richmond to continue after the national festival funding has ended is pretty incredible. It shows that Richmond is committed to the arts.