FALCON RIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL - NEW HOME WITH NEW MEMORIES
September 14, 2022
The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival has long been one of my favorite festivals because of the fun and creative energy and great music.
As usual, setting up our 20 x 20 booth is a big job. I so much appreciated help with this multi-stage task from Brenda - a music therapist, pet sitter extraordinaire, and long-term volunteer at both Falcon Ridge and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. We also had great help from Carol and her friend Jane from the Harrisburg area who had recently returned from their own trip to Peru. It took the better part of two days to get fully setup. The sunset was truly amazing.
While I have formed some nice friendships with fellow vendors at many events, this festival is special because I have been welcomed as a sort of associate member of Painkiller Ridge - one of the longstanding groups of friends who set up camp together. Since this festival has now moved from its previous location at a farm in New York state to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Connecticut, I didn't know exactly where they would be, but it didn't take long to find them at night because the large Peace sign light that adorned their main meeting area was an infallible beacon. It felt wonderful to be greeted like an old friend after a hiatus of 3 years during the pandemic. Gerry, Nate, Chris, and Torrey welcomed me and I quickly connected with Angela and others.
Like many festivals, though, coming together again after several years off was not easy. The volunteer site crew was able to take advantage of some permanent structures at the fairgrounds that they had had to build (and take down) from scratch at the farm, but they still had to learn the ropes at this new site. They gathered every night around a psedo-campfire (real ones not allowed due to dry weather) and played music until the wee hours. I felt lucky to meet one of their members Jean Peter (a former New York city policeman) during the day who offered me a guitar to play a few songs. He later welcomed me to share my whale song with the late night group.
My sales weren't spectacular at this festival, but interactions with the people were bountiful and sincere. I had fun engaging people again with my daily trivia questions. While there weren't as many young people there this year as in the past, it was wonderful to see a group of teens who have come to the festival for years with their parents. Back in 2019, I took a shot of a group of them in front of a giant whiteboard sign that included cariacatures of all of them done by one talented girl. Many of them returned this year for a group photo which displayed their greater maturity.
Some other special people I met at this festival were Ian Campbell and his family. Ian is the owner of the Black Bear Music Festival that will happen at the same Goshen Fairgrounds in October. I was pleased that after this event he was open to my idea of working with a few of our artisan partners to produce some calabash hand rattles and maracas with the bear logo of his festival on one side and a design of the Andean bear on the other. If this concept works well, we could approach other festivals to produce similar crafts with their animal logos.
I hope you can appreciate the smiles of many people I met at this heartwarming event.
"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."