Smithsonian Folklife Festival opens on National Mall

WASHINGTON (AP) - Preparations are under way for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

This year's festival begins Thursday. It will focus on the nation of Colombia, the Peace Corps and rhythm and blues music.

The Smithsonian is giving a nod to the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary. The program was started by President John F. Kennedy with the goal of promoting understanding of Americans about the world and an understanding of other people about America.

The Colombia section will explore the South American nation's biological and cultural diversity. The rhythm and blues section will explore the history of the music genre that encompasses soul, funk and other styles.

The festival runs June 30 to July 4 and July 7 through July 11. It often draws more than a million visitors.