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69th Annual New England Folk Festival Returns to Mansfield

Posted on the 31 January 2013 by Notlobmusic @notlobmusic
Four years ago when UMass Boston-licensed WUMB drank of the federal CPB kool-aid, it became Boston's then third NPR affiliate. It defacto became "Boston's NPR music station" because WGBH had plans to drop all folk and blues programming, adopting a AAA format designed by federal consultants. In the process it dropped the word "folk" from their lexicon in all forms, including scripts read on air, from the logo, from everywhere on its website, even from its newsletter (Folk Ripples became Ripples). WUMB had the decency of also re-branded its festival as the WUMB Music Festival. In doing so it joined the Great Hudson River Revival (Clearwater Festival) by not having a misleading music genre in its name. As folk music is a rare genre.at Newport and Falcon Ridge, those festivals would better serve the public by changing theirs as well.
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.
69th Annual New England Folk Festival returns to MansfieldSwirling 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.

The New England Folk FestivalThis 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

Thursday Contras
This popular contra dance is held most every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) at the Concord Scout House, 74 Walden St., Concord, Mass. It features a wonderful assortment of local and touring performers.
[ Schedule || About the Dance ]

The Ralph Page New England Dance Legacy WeekendThis 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.

Family DancesParents 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.

69th Annual New England Folk Festival returns to Mansfield

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 Form

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

More at http://neffa.org/ 

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