“Shakori Hills Community Arts Center’s mission is to provide an environment for community building through arts and education.”
The weather could not have been better for a four day weekend of communal music and dance at the Shakori Hills Grassroots festival. A diverse group of people gathered together all with one goal: to climb festival mountain. Festival mountain has many trail heads that all lead to the top. Some may choose to go the dancing route, and find themselves encountering the “whitest dance” around town: clogging. That’s right, ladies and gentleman, a clogging workshop was led by The Green Grass Cloggers on Sunday morning at the festival. Shuffle steps, Indians, and chugs were some of the many individual dances taught. Along with the clogging workshop, a zydeco dance workshop, as well as, a country two-step workshop were put on at the festival.
Another primary trailhead was the wonderful trail of music. From Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones to Locos Por Juana; the festival provided a very eclectic group of music that was sure to soothe even the savage beast. Dancing, singing along, hula hooping, and going into hippie freak-outs were some of the many activities that went on during the outdoor concerts.
After climbing through the mountain for some time, a festival-goer may find themselves a bit famished. You would be in luck, because the festival offered some finger-licking, slap-your-mama meals that were affordable and satiable. One meal to highlight was “The Veggie Thing”. This was a piece of art in itself. A sandwich served on a white flour tortilla filled to the top with a variety of veggies and sauces, that was sure to leave your belly full, and your mind happy. Thirsty? Hand squeezed lemonade and frozen cherry limeade were some of the many drinks served at the festival. The sweet, tart lemonade was shaken not stirred and served in Mason jars. This drink option was sure to quench a festival goers thirst in the warm, afternoon sun.
When people think about festivals, they often think art, music, dance, and culture. What is not often thought about is the function of the festival. Is this an event that is just for pleasure and entertainment, or does it get deeper than that, and provide some sort of escape from reality? While camping in middle earth (the name of our camp site), it occurred to me that the sense of community was very shire-like. Everyone getting along, enjoying ales and sing-alongs, lending a hand whenever a neighbor was in need…we were in hobbit world! I even think I saw Gandalf several times, or maybe that was just a hippie…not sure. Regardless of what your background was, the festival did provide an escape from everyday life—which was nice. If nothing else, the festival gave one a relaxing environment to be a part of something big. It’s not everyday that you get to climb festival mountain…
With the festival closing, a feeling of reality crept back, and we began to descend off festival mountain. Thankfully the mountain will open back up next spring for another four-day escape. Hopefully we can use the philosophy of the Shakori Hills festival in our everyday life. Meaning, I hope we can strive to be hobbit-like, regularly. Let’s build communities through arts and education, y’all!
Peace, Love and Swirl!
– Andrew, “The Cosmic Cowboy”
Nicole Kligerman, Sarah Hager and Kate Rafferty talk to attendees of the fall 2011 Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.