Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thankful Thursday - Florida Folk Festival

Greetings, Gail-Friends!

As part of our tenth anniversary celebration,  I am thankful for our four-day vacation to attend the annual Florida Folk Festival.  We enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing trip, and I want to share some photos from our trip with you.  But first, I have to share some of the joys our congregation shared with us.

There was a framed photo collage that says "you + me + 4ever = happiness". So true!

 and an amazing poem, written by LaVonne Craft (one of our talented mishpocha)

my favorite picture from the party.  


and these lovely flowers that lasted a long, long time.  

I'm so thankful for our synagogue family.  We were also showered with gift cards, which were a real blessing on our anniversary trip. Speaking of that, I need to get back to the Florida Folk Festival.

The event is held at the Stephen Foster Memorial Park, which is way down on the Suwanee River, in White Springs, Florida.  This is the carillon at the entrance to the park.


This is the first tent, and where we spent most of our time.  I liked to park there because this is where all of the dancing takes place.  The groups dance and then move on, so you have ongoing entertainment all day long.


I love dancing.  This is an Appalachian group.  Their dancing is kind of like clogging, but a bit looser.


There is so much to see at this event that there is no way to see it all.  There are about a dozen different places to see and hear music acts.  The performers rotate on and off the stage, so again, you could just sit in one spot and see dozens of performers all day (and night) long.  The music goes on till around midnight (officially), then the music continues in the campground nearby.  I hear that sometimes the music goes on all through the night.


We bought a CD from this group -- the Susana Behar Sephardi Music ensemble.  Their sound is a blend of Cuban and  Sephardi (Jewish) music from Turkey.  She was accompanied by Jose Luis Rodriguez, an amazing flamenco guitarist.  I could have listened to them all day, but there was so much more to see and do.  You can hear their music here: http://susanabehar.blogspot.com/

The folk life area was so interesting and educational.  Each year, they focus on a different area of the state, and the focus for 2016 was Miami.  With all the diverse countries represented there, I'm sure they could have spent more than four days sharing more of the music and art and crafts.  The many workshops included Cuban dominoes (which Jem attended), Japanese Ikebana (flower arranging ), Seminole Indian basketry and canoe carving.  I could go on and on because there were dozens of workshops. 

This workshop was about mural painting with spray paint. The artist mesmerized us, telling the story of how he got started as a graffiti artist, then moved into being paid to do murals all over the world.



The folk life demonstrations included presentations about the Jewish community of Miami, and so we attended a workshop on making gifelte fish (whitefish mixed with matzah flour and spices).  Annette Fromm showed us how to mix the recipe and then cook the balls in simmering water. She gave us samples to taste which were hot and spicy and not like any I'd ever tried before.



We also attended her workshop on Jewish traditions where we saw her display of for Passover hagaddahs.

I attended a mountain dulcimer workshop which was very helpful.  I didn't bring my own instrument, so I borrowed one from the instructor.




Here's a snippet of our playing, and I'm sorry to say I cannot figure out how to make this show up horizontally.  So, just listen, Gail-Friends:


One of the places to sit and listen to music is on the banks of the Suwanee River.  The beauty was breath-taking as the sun played through the moss-draped trees that morning.  What a treat to sit in the shade by the water, listening to stories and songs.




Speaking of stories, we attended several story-telling sessions.  My favorite was a husband and wife duo (Backintyme.com) who also shared songs from the Civil War.  We had a great time singing The Bonnie Blue Flag with them. 


We were the only ones in the audience who knew the words:  

"Hurrah, hurrah! For Southern rights, Hurrah!  
Hurrah for the bonnie blue flag that bears a single star!"  

You can listen to the song HERE.  This version is from the movie Gods and Generals, and my own dear husband was in that movie.  He's also a Civil War historian, and we often sing that song together.  You never know -- the South could rise again, especially with all the mess this country's going through.  (I won't get started on that...)

Below is one of several cute cottages in the arts and crafts area of the park.  This one housed local-made pottery. Other cottages had fabric arts, leather crafts, and more.


 I was captivated by these whimsical ceramic mushrooms.  I have several similar ones in my garden.


We meandered on the way up to North Florida for the festival, and we meandered back home, too.  I enjoyed stopping to see points of interest.

This church in White Springs caught my eye, and I loved the white crepe myrtle trees lining their main street.


We went through Lake Butler, and saw these bright, happy flowers lining the roadway for several blocks, right through the middle of town.  I had to stop and take pictures.



And here is the explanation.  I'd love to see this done in my town, and every town in Florida.



We went through the town of Seville on the way up and on the way back.  It's a very small place, and Jem noticed that they didn't have a barber shop.  So, he just had to stop and do this:


Who knew he could sing opera?  I love this man and pray we will live to celebrate another decade together.  And then another, and then another, and more.  Yes, I hope we live to be 100+ so we can have a real "GOLDEN (50 years)" anniversary.  I'm so thankful that G-d put us together.

Thankful Thursday is my day to focus on and be thankful for the good things in my life.

P.S.  - Just discovered this link to the Florida Channel's video about the festival that you might enjoy:

  http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/florida-portrait-64th-annual-florida-folk-festival/

It was good to get to see Arlo Guthrie's face on that video.  He didn't perform until 9:30 at night, and we were sound asleep by then.  We missed the Contra dancing, too, because we were tired by 7:00 pm and had already headed to our hotel for supper. We started out at 6:00 in the morning, Gail-Friends, so with all the walking around, we were "give out" as we say in the South.

We were at that Jim Stafford concert on the video where he said this is the BEST festival in Florida.  I agree with him and hope to go again next year.  

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