City Paper is not for tourists
If you believe weather.com, temperatures over the next several days in the Washington area will stick in the mid-80s, with mostly sunny skies. It’ll be a glorious and active holiday weekend for everyone.
Yet the nice, mild weather is worth noting not just because people will be able to go biking and sailing and drinking.
It could be among the most newsworthy weather developments in the history of the Smithsonian Institution.
Check this out: This run of lower-than-average high temperatures could mark the first time in a really long time that the Folklife Festival, that annual radiator of an event on the National Mall, finishes without a heat wave.
Let’s assume that the forecast is correct, that the mercury doesn’t hit 90 for the remaining four days of the festival. Consider, too, that over its five days in June, the festival just barely tipped into 90s territory, depending on what numbers you look at.
Could this be an instance of collusion between the Smithsonian and the heavens? “We certainly love that we have had great weather this year—-really nice sunny days and a little bit of rain but no major storms,” says Becky Haberacker, a festival spokesperson.
Recent good luck notwithstanding, it’s well-documented that the festival comes at exactly the wrong time of year. “Washington’s weather is not always cooperating during the Folklife Festival,” reads an excerpt from the nearly 100-page “after-event” report on the 2008 festival, which featured NASA. In that same report, 52 percent of surveyed festivalgoers answered “weather” when asked what was the “worst thing” about the event.
Not a stretch to suppose that those respondents were filling out their questionnaires on, like June 26, 2008; or June 27, 2008; or June 28, 2008. During that three-day expanse of festivaldom, high temps were 94, 94, and 92, respectively. Not to be outdone, the 2007 festival had five days of 90-degree misery, with a highlight of 97 on the festival’s last day.
So it goes, on into the weather archives. You have to go back to 2000 to find a festival that performed as well on the thermometer as the current one. With the exception of one 90-degree day, that festival stayed squarely in the mid- and low-80s. Perhaps it was that year’s theme: “Tibetan Culture Beyond the Land of Snows.”
Whatever the history, this’ll probably be a slow weekend for the people working at the festival’s first-aid area. “We do have people visit the first-aid tent because it gets hot and people forget to drink enough water,” says Haberacker.