I was just watching a documentary on the weekend that was made about the Whare Flat [Folk] Festival and it made me think about what inspired me to become the coordinator of this event and what kept me doing it for so long. Whenever you talk to people about why they go to the festival and what takes them back there it sounds a bit like a broken record - it is the community. You can arrive there on the first day knowing no-one and you leave four days later having made a lot of friends. Even if you only see them once a year you always feel a connection with these people and often that inspires you to attend other folk festivals where you will often meet up with those same new friends. It is this aspect of the festival that I find is missing at festivals in other countries. - if you don't already know people, it is easy to feel left out and disconnected.
So what is it that does this for us? Most religions learnt long ago that singing together creates a connection - so does dancing and eating together. I met the same people at all the events at the overseas festival but there was never any connection, so sitting in concerts doesn't do it. At times I think I lost sight of this as I focused on trying to bring new styles of music and different artists to inspire our members. This is important to keep us learning and developing as artists but without the connection we lose people - there are many concerts you can go to but now that villages are rarer and fewer people attend church, it is not easy to feel that ongoing connection that humans seem to need for well-being. (Ha - there speaks the psychologist).
Photo: A LATE NIGHT SESSION IN THE HALL AT WHARE FLAT FOLK FESTIVAL (2006/7)