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Reston Multicultural Festival moves to town center with new line-up

The Reston Multicultural Festival takes place in Reston Town Center this year (via Reston Community Center)

A staple of Reston’s events scene — the Reston’s Multicultural Festival — returns in September with a new venue and line-up of presenters.

This year’s festival will take place at Reston Town Center through a partnership with the Reston Town Center Association instead of the typical location at Lake Anne Plaza.

Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon told FFXnow that the relocation was necessary after the center found itself “unable to agree on mutually satisfactory terms of use for Lake Anne Plaza” with the Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association (LARCA).

“We needed to make alternative location plans to proceed with the other layers of planning the Reston Multicultural Festival requires,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Fortunately, we have a continuing and longstanding relationship with Reston Town Center Association in presenting complex, large-scale events and programming, so this location was a logical alternative and will be a lovely venue for this signature community event.”

This year’s festival also includes a new line-up through a partnership with the National Council of Traditional Arts, bringing NEA National Heritage Fellows, which have received the country’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

Fellows — including New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band, Capoeira Master Jelon Vieira and soul pioneer William Bell — will take the stage at Reston Town Square Park on Saturday, Sept. 17 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The festival will also feature master crafts artists who will demonstrate their art.

“This year’s special anniversaries offer us an opportunity to design a unique lineup and produce the event in a new setting,” said RCC Board of Governors Chair Bev Cosham. “We are delighted to partner with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) to present the NEA Heritage Fellows, and with Reston Town Center Association (RTCA) to create a memorable day of celebrating the diversity of cultures that makes ours a great nation and Reston the special community we know it to be.”

The performances are part of an expanding partnership with the NCTA and mark the 40th year of the NEA fellowship program. Since 1982, the program has granted 467 National Heritage Fellowships. Fellows are nominated by the public and then judged by experts in the arts.

Participants are encouraged to come dressed in attire related to their cultural roots.

It’s not the first time that disagreement between LARCA and event organizers have prompted a location change.

In April, a free summer concert series by the center relocated to Reston Station after an impasse between the board and RCC. At the time, Gordon told Patch that RCC failed to reach an agreement on crafting a policy for plaza use and an application to execute events in an orderly manner.

RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie says the association is looking forward to partnering with RCC again.

“Our longstanding partnership has generated outstanding performances and events for the entire community to enjoy. This year’s Multicultural Festival will continue and extend that terrific partnership,” Goudie said.

A complete breakdown of the festival is below after the jump. The schedule and participating organizations will be released in early September.

Rahim AlHaj, Oud Player and Composer, 2015 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rahim AlHaj is a performer and composer who combines a traditional Iraqi musical foundation with contemporary styling and influences.

William Bell, Soul Singer and Songwriter, 2020 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Atlanta, Georgia

William Bell is a rhythm and blues pioneer who was the first male solo act signed to Stax Records in Memphis. Bell played a pivotal role in ushering in the genre known as Southern soul music, which later resulted in the globally influential “Memphis Sound.”

Jelon Vieira, Capoeira Master, 2008 NEA National Heritage Fellow, New York, New York

Born in Bahia, Brazil, Mestre Jelon Vieira has been at the forefront of promoting and presenting traditional capoeira through performing, teaching, and providing a wealth of expertise on Brazilian culture to scholars and historians.

Billy McComiskey, Irish Button Accordionist, 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Baltimore, Maryland

Billy McComiskey is a world-renowned accordion, or “box,” player and composer who won the Irish Echo’s Album of the Year award for his 2008 recording Outside the Box and was their 2011 Traditional Artist of the Year.

TahNibaa Naataanii, Navajo/Diné Textile Artist and Weaver, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Shiprock, New Mexico

Naataanii weaves patterns that represent her individual creativity, beyond the regional patterns of European colonizers. She is also a rancher of heritage Navajo Churro sheep, vowing to devote her life to this sacred practice. For Naataanii, weavings are living beings, and sheep are life and ceremonially essential.

Rich Smoker, Decoy Carver, 2019 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Marion Station, Maryland

Rich Smoker creates wildfowl decoy carvings out of his home workshop on the banks of the Big Annemessex River on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore.

Treme Brass Band, New Orleans Brass Band, 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellow, New Orleans, Louisiana

Central to the musical traditions of New Orleans are the African American brass bands that play for traditional funerals and street parades. Among the most beloved of these is the Treme Brass Band from the venerable and storied Treme neighborhood The group is led by founder Benny Jones, Sr. who has been parading for nearly 60 years.

The Cambodian American Heritage Troupe

TahNibaa Naataanii, Navajo/Diné Textile Artist and Weaver, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Shiprock, New Mexico

Naataanii weaves patterns that represent her individual creativity, beyond the regional patterns of European colonizers. She is also a rancher of heritage Navajo Churro sheep, vowing to devote her life to this sacred practice. For Naataanii, weavings are living beings, and sheep are life and ceremonially essential.

Rich Smoker, Decoy Carver, 2019 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Marion Station, Maryland

Rich Smoker creates wildfowl decoy carvings out of his home workshop on the banks of the Big Annemessex River on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore.

Treme Brass Band, New Orleans Brass Band, 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellow, New Orleans, Louisiana

Central to the musical traditions of New Orleans are the African American brass bands that play for traditional funerals and street parades. Among the most beloved of these is the Treme Brass Band from the venerable and storied Treme neighborhood The group is led by founder Benny Jones, Sr. who has been parading for nearly 60 years.

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