Weekend Events: 68th Annual Navajo Festival

Join more than 80 artists and presenters at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff for a weekend of cultural immersion at the 68th annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5 and 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Reaching the 68-year mark for the Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture is an incredible milestone on many levels,” said museum director and CEO Carrie M. Heinonen. “The festival is a place where culture, creativity and community come together, and it reflects the long-standing relationship between MNA and the Diné people.”

It all began in August 1949 through a group of traders on the western portion of the Navajo Nation, when 15 trading posts submitted 10 of their best rugs to the Museum of Northern Arizona to compete for prizes. The museum’s goal was to align both weavers and traders in keeping alive the old styles of weaving and improving the quality of yarns, dyes and designs.

Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture - Flagstaff Arizona

CAMERON, ARIZONA, 16 APRIL 2014: Jones Benally, a famous medicine man, dances the Navajo Hoop dance in a small canyon in the badlands of Cameron, Arizona.

Today, this weekend event draws thousands of visitors from across the region and around the world, and comprises of much more than traditional weavings.

The public will have the opportunity to purchase traditional and contemporary examples of silverwork, jewelry, painting, weaving, folk carving, sculpture and more directly from the artists. Artist demonstrations, musical performances and the pageantry of Navajo social dances will also be featured.

“What is unique to this festival is the rare opportunity to meet and engage with so many talented artists,” said Cristen Crujido, the museum’s director of marketing and public affairs. “Each of our heritage festivals provides an in-depth look into the cultures and peoples of the Colorado Plateau and allows for inspiring exchanges between artists and visitors.

“Our main stage entertainment includes some of the region’s best performers. Both traditional and contemporary entertainers will take the stage Saturday and Sunday.”

Festival favorites the Pollen Trail Dancers and Jones Benally Family will present authentic social and hoop dances. New to the festival this year are two musical groups: The Sweethearts of Navajo Land, performing social songs, and Blackkiss, whose music reflects the influences of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

The Heritage Insights lecture series, presented by Arizona Humanities, will foster cross-cultural communication and understanding by presenting Diné history, personal experiences, family traditions and current issues facing the community.

View original article by Daniel Hargis of Red Rock News here to learn more and view upcoming highlights of the weekend.

Visit musnaz.org for more information on the festival and a complete list of scheduled performances and participating artists.