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Each summer, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival offers tourists and locals plenty of reasons to venture down to the National Mall—folk music, native food, interactive exhibits. And every year Mother Nature offers her own reasons not to—mostly sizzling temperatures

and stifling humidity. This year’s festival was unspectacular by historical standards—Folklife fests since 1995 have averaged 87 degrees; this year’s averaged 88—but over the past 10 years, the Smithsonian vs. nature

battle has produced some unforgettable moments:

High temperature: 97

Relative humidity:

100 percent

Selected theme:

The Mississippi Delta

Notable event:

“Worship crafts” section a big draw due to

elaborate hand fans.

High temperature: 95

Relative humidity:

90 percent

Selected theme:

Wisconsin

Notable event:

Badger-state adage “You could cook a bratwurst on the sidewalk out here” becomes basis for

popular concession.

High temperature: 99

Relative humidity:

76 percent

Selected theme:

“The Silk Road”

Notable event:

Traversed mostly by comfortable, breathable cotton

High temperature: 93

Relative humidity:

87 percent

Selected theme:

“Oman: Desert, Oasis, and Sea”

Notable event:

Minor inaccuracy:

Arabian oases don’t

traditionally offer $3 bottles of Dasani.

High temperature: 93

Relative humidity:

81 percent

Selected theme:

Scotland

Notable event:

Single-malt purists sneak ice cubes when no one’s looking.

High temperature: 89

Relative humidity:

93 percent

Selected theme: “Tibetan Culture Beyond the Land

of Snows”

Notable event:

Mass dissatisfaction with “Beyond” part of the title

High temperature: 91

Relative humidity:

100 percent

Selected theme:

“Working at the

Smithsonian”

Notable event:

Actual Smithsonian employees prefer to chill undisturbed in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

High temperature: 92

Relative humidity:

82 percent

Selected theme:

Haiti

Notable event:

Wyclef Jean’s “Gone ’Til November” finds new resonance.

High temperature: 91

Relative humidity:

91 percent

Selected theme:

Bermuda

Notable event:

Eponymous shorts

more popular than eponymous onion.

High temperature: 99

Relative humidity:

90 percent

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Selected theme:

South Africa

Notable event:

Sandy, blond Mall

gravel makes visiting Kalahari bushmen feel right at home.

High temperature: 87

Relative humidity:

100 percent

Selected theme:

“Washington, D.C.:

It’s Our Home”

Notable event:

Festival moved to

Benning Road cooling center.

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Illustration by Doug MacDonald.