Arcadia Folk Festival draws over 1,500 to third annual benefit event

  • Pan-Latinx group LADAMA, featuring women musicians from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and New York, light up the main stage at the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • LADAMA’s Lara Klaus from Recife, Brazil, pandeiro in hand, tries to teach the crowd some Portuguese during the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • LADAMA Venezuelan musician Mafer Bandola jams on her Bandola guitar, a traditional Venezuelan chordophone, to kick off a song during their set at the Arcadia Folk Festival at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary Sunday in Easthampton. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Florida-based folk musician Matthew Fowler sings a song at the Pavilion Stage during the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Chris Smither sings a blues song in a minor key during his main stage set at the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Singer-songwriter Lizzie No performs at the pavilion Stage during the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Singer-songwriter Lizzie No plays a song on the harp during an afternoon set at the Pavilion Stage during the Arcadia Folk Festival Sunday at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Festival-goers from across the region turned up at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary Sunday for the Arcadia Folk Festival bringing both fresh and hallowed talents to Easthampton, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Western Massachusetts folk-rock group Love Crumbs perform on the Pavilion Stage during the Arcadia Folk Festival, Sunday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

For the Gazette
Published: 9/19/2021 8:04:22 PM

EASTHAMPTON — It was a picture-perfect day on Sunday as over 1,500 people attended the Arcadia Folk Festival under brilliant blue skies at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.

This year’s lineup included Suzanne Vega, Lori McKenna, Chris Smither, Ladama, Barnstar!, The Green Sisters, Lizzie No, Mtali Banda, Matthew Fowler Love Crumbs, and Little Roots.

“To have a festival like this, right here in our area and at such a lovely and important place is just amazing,” said Janice Bayer of Easthampton. “And with this weather – you just can’t beat it.”

While some musicians performed on a main stage on the sanctuary lawn or in a nearby pavilion, others offered more intimate acoustic performances in the woods, just off one of the sanctuary’s nature trails.

“We took a hike around back and it was great to feel the breeze blowing through the trees and then come upon people playing music,” said Tim Benoit of West Springfield. “I love this, it is absolutely magical.”

Prior to her afternoon performance, Vega stood behind the main stage taking in the sights.

“This is a gorgeous place and this is absolutely the right thing to do on a day like today,” she said.

Vega said she had never been to Arcadia, but loved the area and fondly remembered the many times she performed in the Valley.

“This is a nice community out here, it feels very welcoming,” she said. “I remember playing at the Iron Horse millions of times, it was one of the first venues that I ever played outside of New York.”

Longtime Arcadia volunteer Ken Howard said that he had been looking forward to the festival.

“I like this a lot,” he said. “I was at the original Woodstock — to me this is like a baby Woodstock.”

Throughout the afternoon, festivalgoers sat in lawn chairs and on blankets enjoying food and beverages from the variety of vendors, while many younger audience members participated in nature-themed art projects and outdoor educational activities.

Just after noon, the international band Ladama with members from Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela took to the stage playing tight Latin rhythms that brought many to their feet to dance.

“It is beautiful here,” said Ladama band member Lara Klaus of Brazil while taking a break after the performance. “It is so nice to finally play outside after a pandemic and to see so many people.”

The event followed all Massachusetts Health Department guidelines and mandates.

Masks were required to be worn at all times and the venue strongly requested that people not attend unless they were fully vaccinated.

The Arcadia Music Festival is a benefit for the sanctuary and is produced in conjunction with Signature Sounds.

Sanctuary director Jonah Keane said the festival began in 2018 as part of Arcadia’s 75th anniversary kickoff event. In 2020 the event was not held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the beginning the feedback was fabulous, everyone loved it,” Keane said. “It just has a mellow happy vibe where you get the feeling of a wildlife sanctuary and can enjoy the combination of music, food and nature.”

Keane said that this year’s event had 16 craft vendors and seven vendors for food and drink.

Peter Hamelin, director of live music at Signature Sounds, called the last two festivals at Arcadia a “slamming success” with sold-out tickets and merchandise.

“It has been a great partnership,” Hamelin said. “And the attention that Arcadia gains by people coming for this event is really nice.”

One aspect that was highly appreciated by several people was the cleanliness and the environmentally sound practices at the event.

“I love how everything is done with the environment in mind, from the containers for composting to the water bottle refill station,” said Jana Pickart of Northampton.

Hamelin said he was impressed at the small amount of trash generated at the festival.

“Last time we were here, we had one small garbage bag of trash. Everything else was recycled or composted,” Hamelin said. “That is one of the beauties of this event is that it showcases what can be done.”

The Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary spans parts of Easthampton and Northampton and contains diverse terrain such as forests, meadows, grasslands, marsh, and wetlands, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife.

According to Hamelin, the festival is expected to bring in $30,000 for Arcadia.




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