History of the Festival


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 first Texas Folklife Festival was held from September 7-10, 1972, on the grounds of the institute at Hemisfair.  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.   


Participant Milestones


45th Year

J.T. Neal Jr.
Johnny Neal, Jr.

40th Year

Nancy Lou Webster
Elgin Treenware Family

35th Year

Fire-on-the-Mountain Cloggers, Performer Linda Carolan
Heart of Texas ATHA Rug Hooking Assn., Catherine Hickman
ZORYA, Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Performer Andrew Chobany

30th Year

Basketmaker, Dale Dorsey
Men's Garden Club of San Antonio Frank Rios
Folk Toys, Karen Haile
Panamanian Folklore Dancers of Killeen

25th Year

Chilean Folklife, Performer Jaime Riveros
Herman Davis Woodcarving, Herman Davis

20th Year

GEK Company,  Gale and Kay Kloesel
San Antonio Lion Dance Association, Performer Margaret Lew

15th Year

Emcee Terry Rodriguez
The Tailpipes Performer Frank Berlingis

10th Year

Tusuy Kusun Peru,  Performer Maria Linan
Conjunto Heritage Taller, Performer Yadhira Lozano
Guillermo Serpas,  Performer Guillermo Serpas
Alamo Coin Club Demo, David W. Astwood

5th Year

Ballet Folklorico de NavarroPerformer Adrian Herrera
Emcee Nicki A. Roberson
EF Foundation High School Exchange Year, Jesusita Guzman
Conjunto Puro Corazon,  Performer Andy G. Cardenas
Emcee Susan Chambers
Emcee Steve Ogden
Pecos Pete’s Soda Company, Rich Bradley