June 9, 2016

Ocrafolk Festival:  Like a family reunion

The Ocracoke Observer

Cassie MacDonald feels that the Ocrafolk Festival is like a big family reunion.

She and her sister Maggie, both from Nova Scotia and who perform Celtic music, have gotten to know many of the musicians and locals.

“But somehow you meet someone new each time that you’ve felt you’ve always known,” she said in an interview as the festival wound down on a sunny Sunday.  “It’s one of my all-time favorite festivals.”

The annual festival of music and arts produced by Ocracoke Alive, held June 3 to 5, slipped in between two coastal storms, was doused Wednesday, leaving the main stage audience area on the Books to Be Red grounds a small lake along with numerous large puddles on School Road and Howard Street.

Volunteers worked Thursday pumping as much water as they could off the grounds.

“I’m the human clamp,” said Andrew Havenhand, as he held the hoses siphoning off the water from a pump operated by another volunteer, John Brock.

By Friday afternoon, the small pond in front of the stage had greatly diminished allowing for chairs and the sound booth to be set up, though a large area of mud remained in part of the seating area.

Despite a brief shower early Saturday morning, all of the artisans had set up, the sun had come out and the festival was a go.

Festival first-timers Cindy and Jim Barnett of Kitty Hawk were enjoying the different genres of music, including jazz, folk, world, rock, Celtic, bluegrass and more.

“It’s a good time,” Cindy said.

Islander Monroe Gaskins was enjoying the MacDonald sisters’ performance at the Workshop Stage beside the United Methodist Church.

“I come every year,” he said. “It brings a lot of people to the island.”

John Hodge of Lebanon, Pa., attended the festival for the day on Sunday with his family, all of whom were staying in Hatteras.

“I look forward to this every year,” he said. “Ocracoke has a lot to offer. I like all the restaurants and especially the music.”

Robin and Chad Macek of Wilmington were first-time artisans at the festival with their jewelry line called YouMeUS Designs, and were thrilled with their sales.

“It was the best two-day festival we’ve been to,” Robin said. “We’ve been doing shows for four years.”

Delaney Goldberg, a jewelry artist from Kitty Hawk, has been displaying her work at the festival for the last seven years.

The threat of rain didn’t deter her.

“I woke up at 6:30 (Saturday) and there was an orange and red spot right over the island (in her weather app), but by 10 a.m. the rain had passed,” she said.  “It’ a great show and I enjoy it every year.”

Elizabeth Smith of Greenville won the raffle of the quilt “Block Party” made especially for the festival by the Ocracoke Needle and Thread Club.

But she almost didn’t get it.

The first ticket David Tweedie, president of Ocracoke Alive, pulled contained a number and not a name.

When no one came forth to claim the number, he pulled another one, which was Smith’s.

But when Smith went to the information booth to claim the queen-sized quilt, one of the volunteers, Deborah Leonard, who also happens to be a member of the quilting club, said that the first ticket pulled was hers.

Leonard was gracious in deferring to Smith, who has been attending the festival for 10 years.

“I’m not going to take it away from her,” Leonard said of the quilt. “I want you to have it.”

Tweedie, who is also the fiddler for Molasses Creek, the festival hosts, was happy with the festival.

“We were really fortunate,” he said Tuesday about the festival dodging the rain that returned late Monday afternoon and again Tuesday. “We’re fortunate with how everyone pitches in to make this festival happen, and everyone’s willing to adapt.”

He noted that fest-goers were excited with new acts, such as Lipbone Redding, the Bucket Brothers, the Oak Grove String Band and Michael Stanwood.

“The new faces make it a lively experience as well as the return of favorites, such as Beleeza, Kaira Ba, and the MacDonald Sisters, and new local groups, such as the Madame Presidents.” he said. “It was another magical weekend.”

(This article is reprinted with permission from The Ocracoke Observer.  For more news and features about Ocracoke, go to www.ocracokeobserver.com.)

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