Free Spirited and Free of Charge
Drive down 99 for the Downtown Edinboro Art & Music Festival
MAY 16 - 19
We'll soon be coming upon the third weekend of May.
That means, like it always does, that — raining, or shining, or whatever it may be — summer's about to drop in to spend its first real visit: A free-and-easy longish weekend, when and where art and music, rooted and rich and colorful and cool, abound.
Like it always has, the Downtown Edinboro Art and Music Festival — a big little one, to be sure, deep-steeped and well-simmered in the fine, long-storied lines of Appalachian music and folk traditions — will, for its 15th year, breezily usher in the summer music season in and around our getting-ever-greener region.
Now, I've been here and there for most of the Downtown Edinboro Art and Music fests over the course of that decade-and-a-half — sunny Edinboro's where I call home, you know.
One of the coolest things, I've always found, is that no matter where you go (and it's a pretty good-and-sizable gathering, one that may attract some thousands over that three-day stretch), it feels small and intimate, unhurried and always of-the-heart.
And that's something, alright.
Tiger Maple String Band's Fred Parker — one of the free festival's chief organizers, promoters, and performers — put it perfectly when he said this during an interview leading into the fest's milestone 10th year:
Along with a cornucopia of culture, he said, "you're gonna run into a lotta good people, all there for the same reason — to celebrate music, art and hangin' out with each other. The whole thing's just about having a good time, and generating a feeling of community. That can enrich our town, our society ... I dunno, maybe even our world."
It's the kind of festival where everything — tons of live music, open workshops, and a whole lot more — is happening all over the place, all the time, making for celebrations within celebrations, happenings within the happening at-large.
We — and a whole lot of other people — love that about it. Always have, and always will.
The fest kicks off with an opening set by Claire Stuczynski followed by its traditional first-night headliner performance by area jam mainstays Donna the Buffalo (long considered by many to be masters and among the first in the herd of the modern roots-rock-groove revolution) Thursday night at Culbertson Hills.
And, from there, for a good few days, it just sorta doesn't stop.
Headquartered by day at the lush and beautiful Goodell Gardens and by night at different venues and locales, indoors and out, in and all around downtown Edinboro, this year's festival also features performances by the local, regional, and national likes of Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, Jim Avett, Eric Brewer & Friends, Tiger Maple, Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors, Company Townes, Dangerbird, TK Blues Co., Fred Oakman and the Flood, Ron Yarosz and the Vehicle, Salmon Frank, and plenty of other bands and performers — and lots of worthwhile music, arts, and crafts workshop presenters, too.
And it's all free.
That's right — free. A real good time that, besides whatever you may want to spend once you're there, doesn't have to cost you a dime (though, you know, supporting local artists with some of your spending coin is never unappreciated).
It's really close by, and genuinely family-friendly, too, so, if other, unrelated plans for your weekend aren't already pre-set in motion, there's really no reason not to go check it out.
For the full lineup, directions to performance/exhibit venues and other locales in and about town, and other details about this year's festival, visit edinboroartandmusic.com.
And we'll see you somewhere there. — Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith can be contacted at rSmith@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @RyanSmithPlens.