June 2,  2008

The Ocrafolk Festival begins on Friday, June 6, and runs through the weekend


For the past nine years, the first weekend in June has brought a celebration of music, storytelling, and artistry to Ocracoke. The Ocrafolk Festival, scheduled for Friday through Sunday, June 6-8 this year, is a feast for the senses.

Centered at the intersection of Howard Street and School Road, just off of Highway 12, the festival features local and regional talent in several different art forms, from clogging and guitar-pickin’ to painting and basket weaving, and much more.

Musicians and storytellers will perform on two different stages -- the Live Oak Stage is under the oak branches in the yard at Deepwater Pottery and Books to Be Red and the Howard Street stage is located around the corner on Howard Street next to Village Craftsmen. In between and all around are the colorful tents and displays of the Ocrafolk Festival artisans. The arts and crafts make the festival visually stimulating and complement the music wafting on the breeze.

“As I’m running around from stage to stage at the festival, I get to look at these incredible crafts that people make,” says musician Marcy Brenner. “They may think the music is amazing, but I’m amazed by the artists. I really love and appreciate it that they’re here.”

The artisans each donate an item or items (valued at $50 or more) for the festival’s fundraising auction, which is on Friday night at the Community Center.

Some of the Ocrafolk artisans come year after year, and their continued support has been an important part of the festival. 

Kim Mosher lives on Hatteras and has participated in six Ocrafolk Festivals. She’s the illustrator of the children’s book, “Pelican and Pelicant.”  Her artwork, inspired by the birds and sea creatures of her island home, is drawn with colored pencils, which, as she says, “takes a really long time.”

“Most of my originals take about 500 hours or more, depending on the size,” said Mosher. “I just recently finished a seahorse that took me a year and a half to complete. I make my art affordable on limited edition prints, tiles, cutting boards, T-shirts, and canvas bags.

“At the festival,” she added, “I draw fun pen-and-ink images -- I get inspired watching people. The Ocrafolk Festival is a great time – the music, storytelling, locals, tourists and food. I can't wait.”

Stephanie Kiker is another Hatteras artist returning to the Ocrafolk Festival. Kiker’s artwork is bright and colorful, inspired by nature. She draws with colored pencils and soft pastels and offers her artwork as framed art, prints, cutting boards, ceramic tiles, and pillows. This will be her second year as a festival artisan.

“I’d been to the festival in the past and always thought it was great event,” she said. “Up until two years ago, I had a gallery over here and just couldn't do a show during the season, but once my gallery was closed, I wanted to be involved. The festival is fun – with lots of great music and art -- and I hope to be able to continue participating in the future.”

Joy Hannan-Copanezos has been attending the festival for years. She makes jewelry, both sterling silver and 14-karat gold, using semi-precious stones. Mermaids are one of her specialties.

She also makes jewelry out of children's drawings. Called KiDoodles, the pieces are custom made “as unique as the child who designs it.” Hannan-Copanezos has just started working on a larger scale, making designs in copper and fusing them in between colored glass in a kiln, to create pieces for the wall.

Hannan-Copanezos says she loves the festival’s music and storytelling.

“I loved listening to Dave Tweedie on the fiddle play a waltz with a woman on the violin. I love listening to Katy Mitchell’s voice deepen and get richer over the years,” she said.

Joan Kelly from Memphis, Tenn., has attended every Ocrafolk Festival but one -- and she wanted to be here for that one, too.

“Ocracoke has been a special place to me since I was a little girl,” she said. “My grandparents lived in Elizabeth City, and we would visit them every summer and take a day to drive to the beach.”

Kelly and her husband, Ernest, honeymooned on Ocracoke and visit at least once a year. They’ve enjoyed visiting at Thanksgiving twice and attending the festival fundraiser concert.

This is Kelly’s fourth year as an art vendor. The festival has helped to inspire the beautiful work that she brings.

“I had just started woodturning in 2004 when we attended the festival,” she said. “There was Clyde Jones doing his famous chainsaw art, and there were several leftover chunks of cedar.  I asked Dave Tweedie if I might take a couple of those scraps to see how they turned. Dave said, ‘Sure, take all you want since Clyde is done.’ The next summer I was accepted as an artisan. Many of those cedar scraps returned as small bowls and other turned objects. This year I will again bring my woodturnings. I don't have much Ocracoke cedar anymore, but I do have lots of bowls, vases, and platters, as well as some small items turned from a wide variety of mostly domestic woods.

“We love everything about the Ocrafolk Festival,” Kelly said. “Being an art vendor is especially fun because it lets me be part of the heart of the festival. I feel a little less like a tourist and a little more like part of the community. We are looking forward to being there again.”

Some of Ocracoke’s resident artisans also participate in the festival.

This will be the fourth festival for Cindy Fiore and Gael Hawkins, who design and create unique jewelry pieces under the name Red Turtle Studios. They make necklaces and earrings, using semi-precious and precious stones, set in sterling silver or 14-karat gold. Their work is available on Ocracoke at Bella Fiore Pottery, Silver Lake Trading Company and Down Creek Gallery.

“I enjoy the festival,” Fiore said. “I have a great time being outside on a great day with great music. It’s great to be around creative people all day.”

Fiore has lived on Ocracoke for 30 years. She’s a licensed massage therapist, and since 1994 has owned Ocracoke Massage, along with Carolyn Wynn. Fiore spent the winter in California learning spa techniques, and Ocracoke massage will now offer body masks and wraps, facials, salt scrubs and body polishes.

In addition to her work as a massage therapist, Fiore has been making jewelry for years, and started working with Hawkins five years ago.

“Gael was interested in jewelry, so we started with what I had. She really took to it,” Fiore said. “She’s very talented, and has a great eye for it.”

Hawkins, who’s lived on Ocracoke fulltime since 2001, says she finds inspiration from the jewelry material itself.

“We just play with the stuff,” she said. “Sometimes we use antique beads or old pieces incorporated in our work. We don’t have any special style. We’re all over the place.”

Hawkins enjoys the festival, she said, “because it’s a great way to do something for the community. We have a venue to show our work and we get to listen to great music at the same time.”

This is basketry artist Judith Saunders’ fourth Ocrafolk Festival as well. She and her husband, Charles, built their Ocracoke home in 1991, and have lived here since 2002 when Saunders retired from 30 years as an art teacher in the Norfolk public school system.
Saunders considers herself a “mixed media artist” – she uses traditional basketry techniques to create nontraditional forms that are more sculptural than functional. She has developed a “beach basket” series that incorporates Ocracoke shells as part of the structure.

“I spend hours walking on the beach and consider the shells as Mother Nature’s gifts to be enjoyed and shared,” she said. “No two pieces are ever the same. Each basket is a challenge offered by the shell.”

Saunders will have her beach baskets at the festival, and they are also available at Island Artworks. Saunders will also display all-copper bias-weave pieces, some hand-painted paper pieces, some “cathead” pieces, and woven paper bead earrings. She enjoys weaving during the festival, and cheerfully answers questions about materials and technique.
“Weaving always stimulates interest and lots of questions,” she said. “I have even done a little teaching at the festival.”

Two years ago a young man kept returning to Saunders’ display. He had done some missionary work in Africa and learned to do some weaving.  He went to the cottage where he was staying and returned to show Saunders his work, eager to learn about her bias weaving technique.

“I was thrilled,” she said, “both with his interest in my work and his desire to share his experiences.”
“The most enjoyable part of the festival is always the interaction with the people, the islanders and the visitors,” she added. “I am always interested in the looks and comments and questions people have to offer.”

Ocracoke resident and jewelry-maker Gisette Suarez is looking forward to her first Ocrafolk Festival.

She moved to Ocracoke from Kill Devil Hills three years ago to open and manage The Glass Bead shop, where she encourages customers to explore their creativity. The shop sells beads and beading supplies, and also provides tools and work tables for on-the-spot jewelry-making with help from Suarez.

For her own designs, Suarez likes to work with seed beads, creating multi-strand bracelets and necklaces.

“I’m inspired by nature around me,” she said. “There are these little red dragonflies around right now, and I just finished a piece inspired by them.”

Last year, Suarez closed the bead shop early to catch some of the festival, but this year she’ll get to be a part of the whole thing. She’ll be sharing her festival booth with Barbara Reardon, who owns the Ocracoke Bead Shop and four others on the Outer Banks.

“I love the music,” Suarez said. “I love to see people being creative.”

Ocrafolk Festival
Friday through Sunday, June 6-7-8

Friday Events

6:00 PM --“Meet the Performers” Potluck at the Ocracoke Community Center.
Open to the public (bring your favorite dish).

7:30 PM – Ocrafolk Festival Live Auction Fundraiser at the Ocracoke Community Center. This great live auction will feature must-have donations from regional artisans and businesses. All proceeds go to support this year’s event.

9:00 PM -- Baby Dee and Free Moustache – After the auction, sit back and enjoy a new Ocracoke supergroup with Bob Ray, Kevin Hardy, Matt Sheehan, Robert Rayborn, Jason Burdo, and Theresa Ray. Old-time country with an open attitude!

Saturday Events

10:00 AM to 6:00 PM -- Artisans and craftspeople from Coastal Carolina and beyond. Along School Road and Howard Street.

Silent Auction all day Saturday (next to Deepwater Pottery)

Live Oak Stage
(Rain site Ocracoke School Gym)

10:00 AM – Ocrafolk Sampler

10:45 AM – Ruth Wyand
11:30 AM – Martin and Friends
12:15 PM –Barnraisers
1:15 PM – Warren, Bodle & Allen
2:00 PM – Green Grass Cloggers (w/Molasses Creek and Rodney Kemp)
3:00 PM – Coyote/Noah Paley

4:00 PM -- Donald Davis
5:00 PM -- Molasses Creek w/Gerald Hampton, Lou Castro, and friends

Howard Street Stage
(Rain site Deepwater Theater)

9:30 AM – Ocracoke Jazz Society
10:30 AM -- Donald Davis
11:00 AM – Skye Zentz w/ Kathleen Fogarty
12:00 PM – Michael Stanwood & Fiddler Dave
12:45 AM -- Philip Howard “Ocracoke Stories"
1:15 PM – Anne Haley
1:45 PM – Songwriters’ Circle with Anne Haley, Catesby Jones, Marcy Brenner,  Noah Paley, Skye Zentz, and Phil Kelly
2:45 PM – Phil Kelly
3:30 PM – Catesby Jones

Deepwater Theater Family Stage (Outside)
(Rain location Ocracoke School)

9:00 AM -- Clyde Jones Chainsaw Critters (kids and adults come help design them!)
10:30 AM – Louise Kessel (little kids stories)
11:00 AM – Fish printing (Outside)
12:00 PM – Drum making workshop with Jubal Creech (Outside)
12:00 PM – Harmonica workshop with Bob Zentz (Inside)
3:00 PM – Clogging workshop

Saturday Evening Events

8:00 PM -- Traditional Ocracoke square dance at Ocracoke School Gym (Easy to learn and open to all!)
9:00 PM – Mallomar British Invasion Band (Deepwater Theater)
9:30 PM – Katy Mitchell (Deepwater Theater)
10:00 PM – Open mike hosted by Skye Zentz (Ocracoke Community Center)
11:00 PM – Hootenanny Jam hosted by Bob Zentz, Kevin Hardy and Wes Lassiter

Sunday Events

Live Oak Stage
(Rain site Ocracoke School Gym)

9:30 AM -- Gospel Sing (Morning Rain Location at Ocracoke Community Center)
12:00 PM – Donald Thompson
1:00 PM -- Ocrafolk Opry with Sundae Horn, Capt. Rob Temple, Jamie Tunnel, Paul & Jim Wynn, and Jule Garrish
2:00 PM – Scuttlebutt (Bob Zentz & Rick Lee)
3:00 PM -- All Star Jam Finale

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