Get ready for “Hot Rods and Hot Licks” at next month’s Richmond Folk Festival.

That’s the theme for the Virginia Folklife Area, sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Folk Festival will be held Oct. 11-13 along the downtown riverfront.

“Virginians have had an ongoing love affair with automobiles,” said Virginia’s state folklorist, Jon Lohman, in a statement announcing the theme.

He said that when the Virginia Folklife Program first got involved in cars and hot rods, it raised more than a few eyebrows.

“People would say, ‘Is that folklife?’ And we’d say, ‘Sure it is.’ The love of cars and car-building is deeply rooted in a community. It’s people making things with their hands. It’s creativity. These things are passed down from generation to generation, just like any other kind of folklife,” Lohman said.

Folk Fest attendees can meet car collectors and will get to see more than 15 hot rods and collectible cars up close in the Virginia Folklife Area.

Master custom car designer Marty Martino will demonstrate how a hot rod’s whimsical fins are sculpted. He grew up in Richmond’s West End and now runs a custom car shop in Louisa County that rolls out million-dollar cars.

Famed sculptor Paul DiPasquale — who created the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue, the massive Native American statue known as Connecticut that used to be at The Diamond, and the King Neptune sculpture in Virginia Beach — also builds cars and will be on hand in the folklife area, Lohman said.

There will be demonstrations of auto body metal work, pinstriping and custom restoration. Visitors can also watch the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow, a young championship-winning group from the Roanoke County school system, quickly disassemble and reassemble a small-block Chevy engine.

As for music in the Virginia Folklife Area, the Scott Street Five String Finals will draw performances from the best bluegrass banjo players ages 18 and younger.

In addition, Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat will return to perform, and Washington-based hip-hop dance group Urban Artistry will take the Folklife Stage.

The stage will also provide a home for traditional blues, bluegrass, gospel and honky-tonk.

This year’s performers are:

  • Bryan Bowers Band (autoharp virtuoso/folk)
  • Danny Knicely (multi-instrumentalist and dancer)
  • Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd (oyster-shucking champions)
  • Dr. Levine and the Dreaded Blues Lady with Andrew Alli (blues)
  • Frank Newsome (Old Regular Baptist hymns)
  • J Pope (vocalist and lyricist)
  • Legendary Ingramettes (gospel)
  • Linda Lay and Springfield Exit (bluegrass)
  • Mandkhai Erdembat (Mongolian contortion)
  • Urban Artistry (house dance and hip-hop)
  • Whitetop Mountain Band (old-time)
  • Wild Ponies (Americana)
  • Willard Gayheart featuring Dori Freeman (Appalachian singer-songwriters)

The Virginia Folklife Area performers released Thursday are in addition to the 22 performers already announced for this year’s Folk Festival, including Dale Watson, a honky-tonk and country performer from Austin, Texas; Bombino, a Tuareg guitarist known as the “Sultan of Shred”; and throat-singers Huun-Huur-Tu from the Russian republic of Tuva.

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

Colleen Curran covers arts and entertainment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She writes the weekly column Top Five Weekend Events.

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