By Taki S. Raton
The Wisconsin Arts Board proudly announced the selection of Milwaukee’s own folklorist Tejumola Ologboni to represent the State of Wisconsin this weekend at the Midwest Folklife Festival in Bishop Hill, Illinois.
The national and internationally renowned storyteller has served twice as a master artist in the Wisconsin Arts Board’s Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program with his most recent participation in 2011.
Teju in festive cultural circles is known, as referenced in December of 2002 by the Philadelphia’s “Keepers of the Culture” organization, as “an icon among storytellers everywhere.” A multi-talented sculptor, poet, musician, and community activist, he has received numerous national awards.
In 2002, he was awarded the Zora Neal Hurston Award for contributions to the field of storytelling and folklore by the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS). In 2006, he received the Tradition Keepers Award by the Chicago Association of Black Storytellers (ASE).
The Midwest Folklife Festival is a showcase for the rich cultural arts and traditions of the Upper Midwest. During the festival dates of August 4 and 5, visitors can experience samples of the best traditional folk arts in the region. The aesthetic traditions of the Upper Midwest’s diverse cultures to include Native Americans, descendents of the 19th century European immigrants, and African American families in the great migration from south to north will be observed.
Additional performances will include tamburitza musicians T-Roma, country singers The Hoyle Brothers, and Mexican musicians Juvenato. Chicago hair sculptor Amazon Peyton Smiley, rolle bolle maker Roy DePauw of Genesco, Illinois, and bead worker Cheryl Minnema of Milaca, Minnesota will also be featured.
Since 2001, the festival has been a joint project of the folk arts program and state arts agencies of Midwestern states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The festival rotates annually between partnering states. This year’s festival in Bishop Hill is organized around the theme, “Labor and Leisure”.
Mary Lou Schneider and daughter Betty Schneider of Fond du Lac are also sharing the spotlight as Wisconsin representatives.
The Wisconsin Arts Board is a founding partner of the Midwest Folklife Festival. The Arts Board is a Wisconsin state agency which nurtures creativity, cultivates expression, promotes the arts, supports the arts in education, stimulates community and economic development and serves as a multicultural arts and cultural resource.
For additional information, a schedule of this weekend’s activities and a complete list of artist at this year’s festival, please visit http://www.midwestfolklifefestival.org/.