Attending Folklife is a family tradition. Actually it's more than a family tradition, since I had a craft booth there for a few years (late 70s, pre-Ken). My booth was always among the trees that line the western side of The International Fountain. In those days, I liked to design peculiar things out of fabric and, fortunately for me, Folklife attendees enjoyed buying them. The hottest item one year was my Stuffed Nose pillow. The pillows were in the shape of famous noses and included J.R.R. Tolkien's, Machiavelli's, and C. S. Lewis's. I wonder how they've held up and if any are still around.
This was the first year I was able to attend the whole weekend (sans booth, that is.) So much fun! We heard the Mandolin Orchestra, Whamdiddle, Croatian a capella, fiery Norwegian fiddlers...ate the traditional Apple Dumpling and roasted corn-on-the-cob...signed up for harp lessons with Magical Strings...so many wonderful things.
I also had a mission: find someone to lead sea chantey singing at the library. The City of Port Orchard hosts an annual Pirate Mystery Weekend and I've wanted to have a community sing-along to be part of it. The bad news: the event is the same weekend as Port Townsend's Wooden Boat Festival and guess where all the sea-oriented people are? Last year was close - I nearly snagged someone who was willing to lead a sing-along but it fell through (Tugboat Bromberg, where did you go?)
So. This year I talked with Folklife performers who were leading sing-alongs. One group didn't know chanteys, another was already booked elsewhere. I was considering giving up when I noticed a lovely group of pirates. I stalked them to the Northwest Stage Beer Garden and boldly spoke with The Captain, explaining my mission. He said yes, he thought his group, the BOOM Pirates, could join the Pirate Mystery Weekend and they would be delighted to organize and lead sea chanteys. We exchanged business cards and went into the beer garden, where he and his group led a sing-along. They were terrific! I jubilantly went on my way when the sing-along was done.
It wasn't until I got home and looked at the Boom Pirates website that I realized what a treasure I had found. And I wondered if they would really come all the way to Port Orchard (for not-much-money) because these pirates were well-known and from Portland. And it turns out that, yes, they really will. They only ask reimbursement for gas and gunpowder (gunpowder!) The BOOM Pirates will do much more than lead a family-friendly sing-along, including a demonstration of pirate weaponry (which explains the gunpowder expense.) They'll happily camp at Manchester State Park. It is almost too good to be true.
Summing up, I noticed that:
- the best place for people-watching is The International Fountain (find a spot with your back to the sun and and prepare to be entertained.)
- the food lines are shorter at the booths near the crafters' Marketplace.
- marijuana is not in short supply among folkies, evidenced by its unmistakeable scent on the wafting breezes.
- mandolins are epic when there are over twenty of them in one place. They are awesome any time, but en masse...wow.
- a kilt and an unadorned t-shirt is the fashion choice for young men at folk festivals.
- folk humor is rampant, an observation that deserves a posting all its own.
Next time: Hm. Stay tuned.