NW Folklife Festival COVID protocols provide a look at what festival season could look like in 2022

After going virtual for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Annual Northwest Folklife Festival is back and in-person at Seattle Center.

The sights and sounds of the Northwest Folklife Festival are back, the annual festival is underway through May, 30 at Seattle Center. This year, organizers have new protocols in place to deal with the virus, so in-person events can once again be part of the celebration. 

"We are a folk festival and to me that means that, you know," said Benjamin Hunter, Artistic Co-Director of Northwest Folklife.  "We are people first and if we are not taking care of our people, if we are not taking care of our community then we are not doing it right."

Those entering indoor venues are being asked to show proof of vaccination. 

"Show your vaccination, and you will get a certain colored wristband which will get you access into the indoor festivities," said Hunter.   

He says they're also asking those indoors to mask up. 

"It’s not the worst thing in the world to put on a mask and if you are vaccinated, you can participate in those things and if you are not, you can still enjoy the outdoor festivities," said Hunter. 

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The outdoor events are open to all. 

"We are the first large festival of the season in the state," Hunter said. "This is our protocol, our policy. If other people choose to model their festivals off of it great. We are here to celebrate art and culture. We are here to celebrate people, and it’s our primary focus to make sure our people are safe.

When the rain started to fall Sunday, Heather Day joined the dancers at one of the indoor venues.   

"I absolutely love Folklife and appreciate that it’s organized every year by mostly volunteers," said Day.  

She says it has been awhile since she took a spin on the dance floor. Sunday she was planning on doing just that. 

"It’s not something I do regularly, but I love it," said Day. "I was taught to dance like this is in junior high school during PE, and it was always my favorite part of PE."

Heather is hoping this year is a success and the traditions continue. 

"I love Folklife, it’s a very important institution in Seattle, I hope it keeps going," said Day.   

"The idea of metamorphosis with this year’s cultural focus is that," said Hunter.  "These last two years, we ‘ve undergone a change, the whole entire world.  I think, our message in with the old, in with the new, is encouraging people to think about what traditional means, what folk means."