June 10, 2014

A good crowd enjoys 15th Ocrafolk Festival's great
weather, 'magical' weekend....WITH SLIDE SHOW


Shana Tucker, one of the performers at the 15th annual Ocrafolk Festival last weekend, made it a priority to travel from Las Vegas to participate in the festival.

“This is a special place,” she said Sunday between performances and taking her children for ice cream in the village. “I told Gary (Mitchell) to just ask me any time. I took a leave from the show to be here.”

A Durham resident, Tucker splits her time between North Carolina and Nevada, where she is a featured performer singing and playing the cello in Cirque du Soleil’s “KA.”

“To have a full audience that is actually listening to the music is rare,” she said about the festival. “And to walk around the village and have people recognize you and say 'Hi.' That’s what makes it special.”

The combination of high quality performances, an appreciative audience, perfect weather and the vibe of Ocracoke was unmatched, noted islander Claudia Horwitz.

“It’s completely magical,” she said, echoing most of the other festival-goers.

Ashley Harrell, co-owner of Gaffer’s Sports Pub, had a booth to sell clothing from co-ops around the world.

“This was the best turnout ever,” she said.  “I thought it was awesome. I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.”

Her favorite part was the Paperhand Puppet parade on Saturday in which Donovan Zimmerman, co-owner of the business, organizes festival-goers to carry giant puppets and don fanciful masks, then walk down School Road, the main street of the festival, to the beat of his drumming.

From the Live Oak Stage beside Books to Be Red, Louis Allen of Warren, Bodle & Allen, praised the audience.

“This is one of the rare places where the performers are more grateful than the audience,” he said about the crowd. “You are the most loving and receptive group.”

Magic was in abundance throughout the two days.

Chaz Misenheimer, a last-minute replacement, provided some of that magic with his Old Time Medicine show and sleight-of-hand street performances.  

“Medicine shows” were a mainstay of rural entertainment 150 years ago, he said, where the hawker sold “elixirs” that cured anything and everything.  They also sold “healing soap,” he said, noting that one of the artist-vendors, Kim Meacham of Milk Street Soap, manufactured on Ocracoke, has a “Medicine Show” soap in her line.

“There’s a great variety of music here and the talent is unreal,” noted Ed Harris of Chocowinity, who with his wife Carol and her sister Deb Hunsberger, watched the whirlwind that  is Caravan of Thieves at the Live Oak Stage.

“I’m amazed at how a small community gets together to do this,” Carol added.

The artisans were happy with attentive customers.

“Sales have been good and the people have been lovely,” noted jeweler Margaret Miller, owner of Low Tide Jewels.

Food vendor Lauren Strohll, who had baked goods and fresh-squeezed orange juice, sold out of her items.

Mitchell, founder of the festival, leader of Molasses Creek which hosts the festival and who programs the entertainment, was thrilled with the weekend, along with David Tweedie, the fiddler with Molasses Creek.

“The weather stress was eliminated from the whole mix,” Mitchell said. “It had a nice, relaxed, loving feel to it.”  

Last year, a northeaster swept the island Friday night, preventing some people and artisans from attending and also leaving big puddles throughout the festival grounds. This year, the weekend weather was sunny with low humidity.

His only frustration is that more local residents might not get to enjoy it because they are working.

Tweedie, festival director, thought the crowd was what he would have anticipated last year had the nor’easter not come through. 

More folks attended the Friday evening fish fry, catered by Pony Island Restaurant, which was on the grounds of the Ocracoke Preservation Society--across the street from the art auction held at the Berkley Manor.

“The festival is expanding and involving more of the community,” Tweedie said. “That’s exciting.”

Cathy Fink, of the folk/children’s music duo Cathy and Marcy, who had been on the island for Donald Davis’s storytelling workshop earlier in the week, won the Ocrafolk Festival Quilt made by the Ocracoke Needle and Thread Club.  Chuck Hotchkiss, who volunteers all weekend with the chairs and trash, was given the sculpture made by chainsaw artist Clyde Jones.



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