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Posted on: August 12, 2015

15-055 ‘Celebrating Cultures’ Returns to Pearrygin Lake State Park


Afternoon event features taiko, old-time and West African traditions

OLYMPIA – Aug. 12, 2015 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Folk & Traditional Arts in the Parks Program invites the public to the Celebrating Cultures event at Pearrygin Lake, near Winthrop.  

The free outdoor afternoon event runs from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, August 29, on the east shore of Pearrygin Lake, 561 Bear Creek Road, Winthrop. (Directions:

Celebrating Cultures will highlight music and dance traditions that represent three different groups in Washington: taiko drumming from the Japanese American community; country music and dance from the Old-Time community; and music, dance and storytelling from the West African community. Visitors enter the event through the east campground of Pearrygin Lake State Park. Admission is free to the performance. The Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to the park.

The performances are scheduled as follows:

2 to 3 p.m. Inochi Taiko
– Japanese-American drumming
Inochi Taiko was formed in the fall of 2003. The word Inochi, meaning “life force,” had a personal meaning to the founding members of the group since taiko had been an integral part of each one of their lives. From an early age, taiko was the life force or spirit that helped them develop leadership skills, artistic expression and other personal aspects of their lives.

Taiko (literally translated as “drum” in Japanese) is a style of Japanese ensemble drumming that was born in the 1950s but is based upon hundreds of years of community festivals, kabuki theatre and other traditional Japanese arts. Inochi Taiko is led by Garrett and Tyrone Nakawatase, who both have more than 27 years of experience playing and performing taiko.  But all of the members push each other creatively to form a uniquely distinct sound. Learn more about Inochi Taiko at:

3:15 to 4:15 p.m.  Squirrel Butter – Old-Time Variety Music
Fresh from a recent guest spot on National Public Radio’s “Prairie Home Companion,” the duo Squirrel Butter performs traditional and original music influenced by Appalachian, early country, jug band and blues artists from the late 1800s through the 1950s.  Charlie Beck is a virtuoso on the banjo, fiddle and steel guitar. Charmaine Slaven plays fiddle, guitar and feet. Slaven performs old-time clogging steps as she plays. Both sing and combine their voices in smooth, compelling harmonies. 

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Gansango Music & Dance Company – Traditions from West Africa
Gansango Music & Dance draws on the talent of a multicultural group of international dancers and musicians presenting traditional and contemporary dance and music from West Africa. The company is directed by Etienne Cakpo, originally from Benin and now a teacher and choreographer based in Seattle. Performances often feature traditional dance from Benin, including Vodoun ritualistic dances, regional social ceremony dances, such as the Chenkoumé dance from Savalou, and royal historical dances such as the Zehli dance from the late 1800s. Live music on the kora (21-string harp), djembe (drum), djun-djun (drum) and percussion accompany modern dance arrangements based on traditional movement and rhythms, while costumes from West Africa provide color and cultural context for Gansango’s dance shows.

About the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program
The Celebrating Cultures afternoon is part of a broader series of events celebrating Washington’s diverse cultural communities and is presented by the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program. The program is a partnership of Washington State Parks and Northwest Heritage Resources, with funding provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Parks Foundation. For a full schedule of Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program events, contact Debbie Fant, Folk & Traditional Arts Program Coordinator, at Deborah.Fant@PARKS.WA.GOV or 360-902-8635. 


About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Follow Washington State Parks:

Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit


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