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Posted at 3:36 PM ET, 06/19/2008

Blast Off for the Folklife Festival

By Stephanie Merry

If you're wondering what the 30-foot-tall Buddhist temple is doing on the mall, let me assure you it's a temporary addition for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which begins Wednesday. This year's themes include the 50th anniversary of NASA, the state of Texas and Bhutan, the tiny country that lies in the shadow of its massive neighbors, India and China.

Just a short walk from the National Air and Space Museum, the NASA part of the festival offers a more personal experience. Nearly 200 employees of NASA, including astronauts, astrophysicists and aeronautical engineers, will be on hand to discuss their adventures. Meanwhile, employees at the NASA food lab will divulge some of the most popular astronaut meals and discuss the distinct upgrade from freeze-dried food to a more traditional cuisine. Over at the Kids' Space Tent, you'll find daily rocket launch demonstrations.

In the Bhutan area, expect the temple to be a big draw. Much of the interior was hand-carved in Bhutan, then shipped to the U.S. to be constructed. About 140 Bhutanese people, many leaving their country for the first time, will come to the festival to showcase their national sport of archery, traditional dances dating back to the 16th century, darts, javelin, wrestling and Bhutanese cooking. Local restaurant, Indique Heights, will also provide food.

Texas' food portion of the festival reflects the diverse population of the Lone Star State with everything from Czech to "cowboy" to Vietnamese cuisine. Look for barbeque from Capital Q, Tex-Mex from La Mexicana Bakery and Texan Vietnamese from the Asian Grille. There's a Texas-sized music lineup, too: get ready for evening concerts by Grammy Award-winner Augie Meyers, Los Arrieros, Joe Ely and C.J. Chenier.

Watch this space for more info on the festival, including our favorites among the Texas acts.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | June 19, 2008; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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the tiny country that lies in the shadow of its massive neighbors, China and India.
South Korea is just a "roueg states" and "failing states".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

South korea is just a roueg states

Posted by: God is messenger | June 19, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

is Bhutan a country? I don't think so.
In china,we are told that Bhutan is a part of Indea.

Posted by: guojun | June 20, 2008 4:29 AM | Report abuse

Guojun, You're told lots of things in China that the rest of the world doesn't believe.

Posted by: ummm | June 20, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I want Czech food from Texas...

Posted by: rke18 | June 24, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

rke18, Czechs have been immigrating to Texas since before it was part of the United States. It boggles my mind that I have not seen a kolache shop since I left (best breakfast food-on-the-go ever).

Posted by: Alan | June 24, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the program books and the drinks (alcohol) at the concessions?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

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