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NH at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Themes - Ingenuity & Enterprise

An important part of the New Hampshire character emerged during early Colonial times when people struggled with the terrain and long winters to establish settlements. Surviving and prospering helped to develop skills and outlooks on life that have become part of the New Hampshire identity. Taking pride in being able to figure things out and make them work – that's Yankee ingenuity. Hard work and persevering – that's enterprise.

Overview | A Day at the Festival | Program Book | Image Gallery | Themes | Participants, Presenters & Staff

inspecting parts by human hand

In spite of the advances that
computer technology has brought
to precision machining, the final
inspection and quality control
are assured by a human hand.
Minor imperfections are
"de-burred" with the delicate touch
of very fine sandpaper.

In New Hampshire self-reliance is balanced by teamwork. Sometimes the team is a husband and wife working together to farm the land, run a dairy or a small business. Sometimes the team is a work force of over 80-100 employees, and sometimes a team a network of over 200 individual craftsmen.

Not only are New Hampshire businesses diverse, but so are their business styles, tools, and marketing strategies. Some businesses operate with hand-kept ledgers, a handshake, and a good deal of barter. Others have integrated cutting-edge technology into the very heart of their production. Building upon the spirit of ingenuity and enterprise are craft guilds made up of individual craftsmen, family businesses, community businesses, small shops of precision machinists, and highly sophisticated computer and communications companies.

This theme of the festival examined the heritage of invention innovation as it expresses itself in family and community-based businesses and organizations in New Hampshire.

1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Traditions represented in this area of the festival were:

  • Craft guilds were represented by members of the Furniture Masters guild, the New England Blacksmith Association, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (rug hooking and decoy carving).
  • Shaker poplarware and oval boxes represented the Shaker business heritage.
  • Community businesses were represented by Globe Firefighting Suits, Harrisville Designs (looms and wool thread), and Spalding & Frost cooperage.
  • Family businesses were represented by ash basket making, chair reseating, and welding.
  • Technology heritage was represented by precision machinists from Newport and workers from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Festival Site Description:

The entryway to this theme area was a brick and iron gate.

The hub was a sculpture garden of precision-machined parts and granite benches.

There was one scheduled venue, The Mill Stage. In this area tradition bearers were invited to participate in 45-minute discussions on various topics related to New Hampshire traditions.

2000 Celebrate New Hampshire festival

Traditions represented in this area of the festival were:

Tradition represented in this area were the same as those presented at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Festival Site Description:

The theme gateway and scheduled venues were the same as those presented at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Photo credit: Lynn Martin Graton

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301