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The Texas Folklife Festival is an annual event sponsored by the Institute of Texan Cultures celebrating the many ethnicities represented in the population of Texas. Forty different ethnic groups will be represented at the 2007 Festival, to be held on the grounds of the Institute in HemisFair Park in San Antonio, Texas from June 8 to June 10.

The Texas Folklife Festival was modeled after the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, which was held in Washington, D.C. in 1968. On behalf of the Institute of Texan Cultures (which was built as part of the Texan Pavilion for the 1968 World’s Fair), O.T. Baker attended the first Smithsonian Folklife Festival and returned home with big plans—to replicate the event in San Antonio. And the wheels were set in motion.

The concept of creating a festival that brought together different ethnic groups to celebrate and share their traditions was ingenious. Proceeds from the event would be given back to the participating cultures so the customs would continue to stay alive and be passed on through the generations. And, most importantly, the event’s focus directly correlated to the mission of the Institute of Texan Cultures.

The first Texas Folklife Festival was held from September 7-10, 1972, on the grounds of the Institute in HemisFair Park. O.T. Baker (1910-2006), the Festival’s founder and director from 1972-75, was a dedicated and inspirational leader in constructing this phenomenal event that has received countless international, regional and local awards. O.T. died on January 21, 2006.

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