Oregon State Goes to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

One of the nation’s most popular summer fairs, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., will feature hands-on exhibits created by Oregon State University.

Oregon State is one of 28 land grant universities whose accomplishments will be celebrated at the festival from June 27 to July 1 and from July 4 to 8 on the National Mall. More than 1 million people are expected to attend.

Students crash ocean waves into plastic models in the Oregon State University Hinsdale Wave Lab's mini-flume. (Photo by Teresa Morris)
Students crash ocean waves into plastic models in the Oregon State University Hinsdale Wave Lab's mini-flume. (Photo by Teresa Morris)

Participants will have a chance to learn how OSU research has turned surimi seafood into a $2.1 billion industry. Students and 4-H faculty will demonstrate robotics and information technologies through Tech Wizards, an after-school mentoring program. And festival-goers can test their engineering skills against crashing ocean waves in a mini-flume designed by OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory.

These activities complement gatherings among OSU alumni and faculty, U.S. senators and representatives, Capitol Hill staffers and representatives of the Smithsonian Institution, prime sponsor of the Folklife Festival. The OSU Alumni Association will also host a gathering at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society, where two OSU graduates (Chris Johns, editor in chief; Dennis Dimick, executive environment editor) hold leadership positions with the magazine.

On the Smithsonian University Stage, three OSU faculty members (Robin Rosetta, Sam Chan and Jae Park) will give repeated 15-minute presentations during the festival on integrated pest management, aquatic invasive species and seafood.

This year’s festival honors the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which created the land grant university system. Signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, the act made grants of federal land available to states for the development of colleges and universities to teach agriculture, engineering and military skills. Subsequent revisions extended the benefits to black and Native American institutions.

The Smithsonian Institution has created an online schedule of events and exhibitors.
For details on the political history of the Morrill Act, see Milestones in the Legislative History of U.S. Land-Grant Universities by Arnold Appleby, Oregon State University Department of Crop and Soil Science.

The Morrill Act has had far-reaching benefits. See a timeline of milestones for Oregon’s wheat growers and a story about Oregon State’s groundbreaking wheat-breeding program.