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Folks Of All Kinds Come Together At Texas Festival

The Texas Folklife Festival is one of the city's biggest celebrations, and if you're looking for culture, you will definitely find it at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

"Folklife is a celebration of our ethnic communities, our cultural communities from across Texas."

JoAnn Andera knows Folklife well. She's been a part of it for each of the Festivals for its 46 year run.

"We bring them together in one place to celebrate our heritage, our future, our music, our food, our dance."

Most all of the ethnic groups that make up the patchwork quilt of Texas appears at the Institute of Texan Cultures grounds, bringing with them their food, their music, their dance. And did I say food? Ms. Andera laughed.

"That's the #1 reason that people give for coming to the festival. Food takes the cake!"

She then began listing participants and the foods they bring.

"We've got Filipinos with Lumpia and inihaw, we've got the Turks doing the doner, we've got Vietnamese doing chicken stick, we've got the Lebanese shish kabob and tabbouleh, we've got the Greek gyro, we've got the German schnitzel, Alsatian parisa. We've got Belgian mussels. We've got 150 delicious foods."

Folklife is going strong, but is having to grapple with growing pains. 

"We don't have Czechs at the festival this year because the group was older, and they physically just couldn't do the work anymore."

But they do have a plan for dealing with the aging demographic that's going away.

"This year we've added 6 teams of Robotics."

You read right: robotics. Those doing robotics don't represent an ethnicity, but it's definitely a subculture of thought.

"They see things differently, and their life experiences are very different than yours and mine. They represent the millennials--the young" she laughed.

Andera says culture is not static, and you should come see the participants while they still exist.

"We still have a sauer kraut maker, we still have somebody demonstrating pottery and whittlin' and woodworking."

But they won't last forever. Folklife starts Friday and runs through Sunday.

Find more on the Texas Folklife Festival here

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