As early as 1974, managers within the Smithsonian had wondered what to do after the Bicentennial Festival - return to the pattern of smaller Folklife Festivals that had preceded, expand its scope to a Smithsonian Summer Festival that would present popular artistic forms as well, or discontinue it and focus on curating the research and Festival documentation. In the immediate wake of the Bicentennial Festival, plans were proposed for Ralph Rinzler to become head of a new, unnamed folklife unit that would process the documentary materials developed by the Festival and produce scholarly and educational publications. James R. Morris and the Division of Performing Arts would continue to produce the Festival. A broader Smithsonian Summer Festival was accordingly announced for 1977. However, a newly-constituted Folklife Advisory Council decided instead that the Festival's emphasis on traditional cultural should continue, but that the Festival should be moved to the fall and should be more closely integrated with the activities of relevant units of the Smithsonian, especially within the National Museum of History and Technology and National Museum of Natural History. A Folklife Program was established under Rinzler's direction, attached to the Office of American and Folklife Studies headed by Wilcomb E. Washburn (also chair of the Folklife Advisory Council).
The 1977 Festival was thus held October 5-10, on a site within the National Mall later to be occupied by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, between 14th and 15th Streets and between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive (see site plan
). Additional outdoor activities were held on the terrace of the National Museum of History and Technology, and indoor activities took place in that museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Renwick Gallery. The Division of Performing Arts continued to provide overall technical support for the Festival, but each program component was curated by a different team, typically including cooperation between a Folklife Program folklorist and a curator within another Smithsonian museum (see the individual programs for the specific units collaborating on each presentation). Programming was originated by museum staff, then reviewed by the Advisory Council, to broaden the base of staff involvement in the research, planning, and presentation of this and other folklife endeavors.
The Festival featured several larger and numerous smaller programs; documentation of the 1977 Festival is divided into eight series:
- African Diaspora Street Culture
- America's Appetite (for Energy)
- Folklife in the Museum: Hall of Musical Instruments (including presentations of hammered dulcimers andmusical traditions of India)
- Folklife in the Museum: A Nation of Nations (including presentations of saddle making, Dunham Schoollore, Ellis Island & immigrant lore, pencil making, baseball bat turning, ethnic foods, Hispanic crafts)
- Folklife in the Museum: Renwick Gallery (including presentations of paint on wood and crafting withnatural fibers)
- Native American Musical Styles
- Other Programs (including presentations of transportation, folklore in your community, family folklore,Louisiana Cajun social music)
- Virginia Folk Culture
The Festival was jointly presented by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Council for Traditional Arts, and Music Performance Trust Funds. The 1977 Festival resulted from cooperation among a number of entities; those with overall responsibility included:
Folklife Advisory Council
Wilcomb E. Washburn, Chairman, Roger Abrahams, Richard Ahlborn, Robert H. Byington, Richard Dorson, William Fitzhugh, Lloyd Herman, Robert Laughlin, James Morris, Scott Odell, Bernice Reagon, Ralph Rinzler, E. Richard Sorenson
Folklife Program, Office of American and Folklife Studies
Ralph Rinzler, Director; Robert H. Byington, Deputy Director; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Ethnomusicologist; Susan Kalcik, Ethnic Folklore Specialist; Frank Proschan, Archivist; Steve Zeitlin, Family Folklore Specialist; Jack Santino, Occupational Folklore Specialist; Mike Herter, Documentation Coordinator; Jeffrey LaRiche, Energy Program Coordinator
Division of Performing Arts
James R. Morris, Director; Rosie Lee Hooks, African Diaspora Program Coordinator; African Diaspora Program Cultural Historian, Bernice Reagon; Shirley Cherkasky, Production Coordinator
National Park Service
William Whelan, Director
In addition, persons and bodies responsible for individual programs are identified in the relevant series note.
Fieldworkers, presenters, and curators
Carl Scheele, William Sturtevant, Scott Odell, Eugene Knez, Nancy Groce, Holly Baker, Amy Kotkin, Karen Peiffer, Paul Wagner, William Foshag, James Leary, Diane Hamilton, Winifred Brendel, Robert Vogel, Richard Ahlborn, Roddy Moore, Chuck Perdue, Peter Row, Arnold Burghardt, Charlotte Heth, William Powers, Elaine Eff, Robert McCarl, Peter Seitel