CULTUREFEST 305, A CELEBRATION OF ‘MIAMINESS’
Panamanian music and dance group Ballet Folklorico Aires Panameños at last year’s CultureFest305.
Photo courtesy of Yamila Images
On Saturday, November 4, South Floridians are invited to celebrate the essence of Miami at HistoryMiami Museum’s seventh annual CultureFest 305. The free festival will feature a tapestry of cultural performances, interactive demonstrations, Afro-Cuban dance, and traditional food from countries such as Serbia, Haiti, among other highlights.
CultureFest305 celebrates cultural heritage with music, dance, art demonstrations, food, and crafts. It’s also an opportunity to learn about a community’s cultural diversity from the experts who preserve and share these cultural practices.
‘What makes Miami, Miami?’ This question was the spark that ignited the Miamian folklife festival whose origins can be traced back to April 8, 2017.
The festival was born out of a research project conducted by the museum’s South Florida Folklife Center and exploring the essence of the Magic City, explains Vanessa Navarro Maza, Folklife Curator at HistoryMiami Museum.
“For years, she says, our team discussed the possibility of creating an annual folklife festival, and this seemed like the perfect organizing theme around which to host such an event.”
The name “CultureFest 305,” indicates the event curator, reflects the heart of the festival, which celebrates cultural diversity while focusing on the local community and the essence of “Miaminess.” The event showcases tradition-bearers, folk groups, organizations, and businesses that collectively answer the question of what defines Miami.
The festival, according to Maza, plays a vital role in celebrating and showcasing Miami’s rich cultural diversity. “Over centuries, and especially since the city’s incorporation in 1896, the diversity of peoples living in the region has been remarkable.”
“Those who have made Miami home have roots in the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and include present-day Native American groups such as the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes, originally from outside South Florida,” she continues, adding that HistoryMiami Museum’s mission is to safeguard and share the diverse stories of Miami to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community.
CultureFest 305 is a collaborative effort, involving over 30 partners, including traditional artists, community organizations, food vendors, and others. Attendees can engage with tradition-bearers and organizations, immersing themselves in a variety of cultural practices, from making crafts to learning dance moves.
But what exactly makes Miami, Miami? Maza emphasized that Miami’s essence can’t be summed up in a single answer. “A stranger to Miami may answer this question by drawing from the city’s common portrayal as a tropical paradise, but many Miamians will tell you that this fascinating city is more than its beaches and weather. The city is richly complex under its glimmering surface, and exploring this complexity is essential to our work at HistoryMiami Museum.”
CultureFest 305 is the largest annual event hosted by HistoryMiami Museum, and it heavily relies on partnerships with traditional artists and community partners. Maza explains that the festival’s content is co-created with these partners, aligning with their expertise and highlighting aspects of their culture. This approach helps inspire a sense of communal unity and belonging among attendees.
The festival’s scheduled performances include Afro-Cuban batá drum and dance, mariachi music, tango, and a Taekwondo workshop. Interactive activities throughout the day encompass craft activities, storytelling, Zot Arts activities for children of all abilities, and an interactive musical instrument corner.
Attendees can also participate in interactive demonstrations, such as carnival costume making, steel pan music, DJing lessons, scratching and mixing, and Thai fruit carving. Traditional foods from Haiti, Serbia, and Bolivia will be available for tasting, accompanied by insights into the culinary traditions of these regions.
A particular addition to the event is the Miami Stories recording booth. Established in 2009, the Miami Stories initiative collects stories about Miami’s past, present, and future. According to Maza, the Miami Stories Recording Booth allows the museum to capture audio stories at local events. The booth offers visitors a chance to share their experiences and personally reflect on what defines the essence of the 305.
As for the future of CultureFest 305, Maza mentioned that they continually gather feedback from visitors, staff, and partners to enhance the festival each year. “You can never fully answer the question ‘What makes Miami, Miami?’, so each year provides a new opportunity to bring together a variety of talented and passionate locals to help us answer the question,” she concludes.
WHAT: CultureFest305, folklife festival
WHERE: HistoryMiami Museum, 101 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33130
WHEN: 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov 5.
INFORMATION: 305-375-1492 or historymiami.org
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