The 41st Smithsonian Folklife Festival is now underway in Washington, D.C. The annual event brings together cultures from around the world to both educate and entertain visitors. VOA's Barry Unger visited the festival on opening day. Robert Raffaele narrates the story.

There is singing and dancing, arts and crafts, exhibits and demonstrations, and lots of food. All of this can be found at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  The annual event brings together cultures from around the world to Washington, D.C.

This year's festival has three separate themes -- Mekong River: Connecting Cultures, Roots of Virginia Culture, and Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian.

Visitors can interact with people from the different regions and learn about their history and culture.

Dee Dee Darden runs a store selling country hams in Virginia. "This is kind of exciting for us because we have not been involved in anything like this before,? says Darden. ?Yes, it was pretty exciting to get a call from the Smithsonian."

Collin Felton traveled from Kent, England to attend the festival. He grew up working as a hop picker.

"Five pence we used to get paid,? says Felton. ?That was the best we got paid."

He now works at a large hop farm and his exhibit was part of the Roots of Virginia theme.

Eamon Maguire also traveled a long distance. The native of Belfast, Northern Ireland came to showcase his work as a bog-oak carver and drum maker.

But in keeping with the spirit of the festival, he was most interested in seeing the other exhibits. "I am interested in other cultures and I really want to see Washington,? says Maguire. ?But I am mostly interested in seeing things from Mekong Delta."

The annual festival runs through July 8th.