Another sign that Spring has arrived in the mountains is music festivals. We have travelled a few hours south to Black Mountain, North Carolina, about 30 minutes east of Ashville, for the LEAF Festival. This is part Folk-Mountain Music, part New Age, part Renaissance Festival, part weekend Camp In The Park, part Family Gathering. Shoes and Shirts seemed to be optional. Regulars mostly wore bathing suits.
We have been making an annual visit to the Ashville area for a few years to meet up with Linda’s cousin and family. Remember Rock Hounds in NC? This year, Linda found the LEAF Festival on the internet, so we scheduled our trip for this weekend. We opted for the cabin in the woods (comfortable beds, pleasant deck for meals, two bathrooms), rather than the camping in the park experience (sleeping on the ground with thunderstorms at night, tents three feet from the events and vendors, porti-pots down the path). We prefer middle-aged comforts.
The LEAF Festival is held at a local park, with plenty of flat places for the tents around a couple of swimming lakes. There are a couple of barns for fiddle music, contra-dancing, and children’s programs. They set up a few other tent spaces for larger audience performances, as well as music classes for those who bring their instruments, talent, and interest. Throughout the park, performers set up for informal performances, maybe on an open space of grass, or even a large tree stump.
The music options ranged from mountain string bands, to blue grass, to chants, to children’s folk tunes, to brass bands, and funk. Funk? That puzzled us a bit, but rhythm and dance bounces whether country stomp or urban stomp.
When there was a pause to set up a stage for the next group, there was plenty of people watching to make your admission price worthwhile. Children chased huge bubbles. Warriors sparred with foam swords and shields. Magicians performed tricks and juggled. Acrobats paraded on stilts and swung from ropes. Hula-hoopers swung their hips like so many adolescent belly-dancers. And, again, in the family mode, many of these were geared for children, teens, and young-minded adults to participate in.
Then, there were the craft and food vendors. Jewelery, pottery, instruments, paintings, photography, wood-work, clothing, and massage booths lined the pathways. Little of the country-fair style food was here (e.g. corn-dogs to funnel cakes), but the variety of vegetarian and world-food snacks and meals could keep you going for the day or weekend.
Welcome to Spring. Whether you are traveling or doing a Stay-cation, find a music festival near you, don your festival-wear, tap your foot or jump to the beat, and support a local artist (hey, Barney, are you ready for the Spring Craft Fairs?)