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Texas Folklife Festival: The Texas Melting Pot Condensed

The Texas Folklife Festival is coming this weekend and for those of you who have never been, festival Director Jo Ann Andera describes it like this: "It’s a coming together of communities to celebrate food, music and dance."

Forty of the cultures that make up Texas converge this weekend on the Institute of Texan Cultures to strut their cultural stuff. A big emphasis, as Andera notes, is food.

"The Argentinians are going to do empanadas," she said. "We’re going to have Belgian rice pudding, we’re going to have crab rangoon. The Native Americans are doing fried bread, red beans and rice boudin."

This year they’re not just showing people what cultures make, Andera said there are actual how-to demonstrations on how to make what's being made.

“Theda Sultenfuss is going to do a sauerkraut-making demonstration," Andera said. "Our basket weaver is going to go into a lot more detail, how to make a corn husk doll."

And of course there will be dance!

"We’ve got the Gazelle Turkish folk dancers from Houston. The Ukrainian Folk Dancers are coming from Dallas. We’ve got our Tarantella Italian Folk Dancers from Galveston. And then, of course, a lot of the local area, a lot of the old favorites. The Lebanese, the Phillipinos," Andera said.

As to whether or not the Folklife Festival is an event for kids, Jo Ann sums it up.

“I think we’ve heard it 1,000 times from parents that say they had to drag their kids down here, but once they got them here, they put their phones away, and they were totally engaged and didn’t want to leave," Andera said.

The Texas Folklife Festival runs Saturday and Sunday.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii