Alberta is the first Canadian province to be featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in its 40-year history. More than 150 Albertans are participating in demonstrations and performances on the Mall that explore the province's industry, arts and folk traditions.
Dancers, performers and craftspeople show off Alberta's cultural side. Native Indian dancers and spoken word performers tell the stories of Alberta's original inhabitants. Franco-Albertan and Ukranian dancers show off the traditions of immigrant populations and silversmiths and leatherworkers are among the craftspeople giving demonstrations.
Festival visitors have the opportunity to talk with students in Alberta classrooms via the SuperNet network, an online resource that links educational and governmental facilities across the province. Conversations take place on the Mall's Wild Rose Stage at 11 a.m. each morning.
The oil and ranching industries make up a large part of the Albertan economy. A 12-foot-high haul truck, similar to the ones used in the oil sands, is on display along with a 16-foot pumpjack and a simulated wellhead. The farming industry is represented by rural Albertan ranchers and onsite cattle and horses. Canadian cowboy poets give a literary interpretation of life on the ranch and the well-known Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties, tell about policing Alberta.
Of course, a discussion of Canada is not complete without a mention of ice hockey. Albertan coaches gather on the Mall to discuss the Canadian passion for the sport.
Alberta's urban centers are represented by theater troupes from Calgary and Edmonton and gourmet chefs.
PHOTOS: Nancy Groce, Smithsonian Institution; Travel Alberta; Travel Alberta; Nancy Groce, Smithsonian Institution; Travel Alberta