Now the New Bedford Summerfest has re-branded itself, going the opposite direction, as the New Bedford Folk Festival. Organizations that include the word "folk" in their title would do well to comprehend its meaning from this definition by the National Endowment for the Arts:
Traditional arts are those art forms that are learned as part of the cultural life of a group of people whose members share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or culturally united geographic region. Folk and traditional arts are shaped by the aesthetics and values of a shared culture and are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community through observation, conversation and practice.For eight years I volunteered as a stage tech and manager, witnessing scores of musicians from a very broad spectrum of genre, including pop, blues and Celtic, with the majority being of the contemporary singer-songerwriter variety. I had always thought of the word "summerfest" quite unique, descriptive and appropriate. Changing its name to draw on the so-called "folk" circuit or to keep up with the Jones or whatever the reason is a marketing mistake. Chalk it up as yet another usurpation of the word "folk" by mainstream pop culturel traditionalists know where the true folk festivals are.
Swirling Dancers in the Main Hall, Photo by Joe Peidle
But I digress. I wish to honor the NEW ENGLAND FOLK FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION, producer of the folk dance, crafts and music events in two states throughout the year.
This yearly event attracts thousands from New England, the country, and the rest of the world to its wonderful mix of particpatory dance (folk, square and contra), folk music and song, international food, crafts, performances, family-oriented activities, and much, much more. Festival History
[ Schedule || About the Dance ]
This event, held annually during Martin Luther King Birthday weekend in January at the University of New Hampshire at Durham, brings together dancers, musicians, and callers in a weekend of dance, music, and discussions. The weekend was established to honor NEFFA founder Ralph Page, who kept New England dancing alive during the lean years before the revival in the late 1960's. This is a pre-registration event. This is the site of the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance, to which Ralph donated his archives.
Parents and children can dance together during these events held some Sundays during the colder months at the Concord Scout House, Concord, Mass. This event is co-sponsored with the Folk Arts Center of New England.
The Grants CommitteeEach year, NEFFA awards over a thousand dollars in grants and loans to individuals and organizations that support NEFFA's goals.
The NEFFA Concert SeriesThis new series of folk concerts features performers of special interest to NEFFA members.
All events are all-volunteer, from the board of directors to the committee chairs and members to the musicians to the dance callers to the people lending a hand at events.
NEFFA's crowning event is the folk festival. This year's, the sixty-ninth edition, will be presented in Mansfield, MA April 19-21, 2013.
Imagine an indoor festival (ritual dancing and informal picking outside as weather permits) so large it requires two school campuses, with contra dancing in three gymnasiums, performances in a 500 seat auditorium, music concerts and workshops in scores of classrooms, traditional crafts and dance wear for sale in three separate areas, a food court, a childrens' activity room (day care is not provided), informal picking and singing in the hallways.....one begins to get a sense of scale.
And it is 100% FOLK, with absolutely no contemporary / pop filler!
Congratulations, NEFFA, by understanding the meaning of the word folk you preserve its legacy.
The New England Folk Festival is a fabulous blend of dance, music, crafts, and food from many lands. The 2013 Festival, our 69th annual Festival, is to be held on April 19-21, 2013 in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
One of the things that makes the Festival special is that all performers donate their talents as volunteers.NEFFA Performer Index (2013 performers are bold)Schedule Grids
When: April 19-21, 2013The Festival performer list will be announced in February
Where: Mansfield, Mass.Festival Events
Hours and PricesVolunteer Opportunities
Lost and Found FormVendor Opportunities
Advance Sale TicketsFestival Maps
Evaluation FormThis yearly event attracts thousands from New England, the country, and the rest of the world to its wonderful mix of particpatory dance (folk, square and contra), folk music and song, international food, crafts, performances, family-oriented activities, and much, much more. Festival History