GREENFIELD – Long-time festival-goers and newcomers danced and lay together during the three-day Green River Festival, now in its 35th year.
“The Green River Music Festival allows the community to rediscover each other every year,” said Tony Vacca, Whately resident, long-time festival attendee and former featured artist.
While some return for the community, many festival-goers witness the “spectacular music,” Vacca said. The event draws attendees from across the Northeast and beyond.
Lake Street Dive was the headliner on Saturday, but there were 18 other bands that listeners enjoyed throughout the hot day.
“Lake Street Dive is my favorite band,” said Chi Lin, who traveled to Greenfield from Haverhill for the festival.
Lin and other festival-goers received a mass message from organizers warning them that Lake Street Dive would be performing an intimate acoustic pop-up on the festival’s surprise stage at East Branch Studio.
The group performed acoustic versions of three songs. The musicians performed on a melodica, tambourine, guitar and double bass while singing into a single microphone.
“I love this festival,” Rachael Price, lead singer of Lake Street Dive, said in an interview after the pop-up performance. “I feel at home in this neighborhood. It’s been a while since we played here. It feels good to be back.”
Throughout the weekend, the musicians emphasized the sense of belonging and the magnitude of the crowd support at the Green River Festival.
For example, following a set by singer-songwriter Katie Pruitt, who lives in Nashville, five LGBTQ teenagers flocked to meet her. Pruitt, who made a name for herself in the music industry with her 2020 album “Expectations,” often tells stories about her experience as a lesbian in her songs, and the themes of her music stand out for many young people. listeners.
“I attended many festivals when I was a kid, but there was always a lack of storylines,” she said. “I empower young gay men. I hope they will feel seen and represented by my performance.
Pruitt said she felt comfortable sharing these storylines with her audience at the Green River Festival.
“Sometimes when I sing about my being gay, I don’t always feel safe,” she continued. “As soon as I stepped on stage, it was immediate – I knew these were my people.”
Similarly, Golden Shoals’ Amy Alvey noted in an interview that she’s thought a lot about performing alongside men since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a constitutional right to abortion. She said it “has always been a boys’ club in this music scene”.
“They’re great listeners and aware of taking up space,” Alvey said, “but they’ll never understand what I’m going through.”
The Green River Festival audience, she said, showed her how much the performers’ music is valued.
“It was rewarding to play in a place like this,” Alvey explained. “Music has been so undervalued. People are inundated with music, and everyone is giving it away for free. Playing at this festival shows that people still care.
Still other musicians spoke at the festival, allowing them to take their music to a wider stage. Northampton punk band Prune were the latest act to perform on the Artifact Cider stage on Saturday, with guitarist Izzy Hagerup saying the Green River Festival marked the band’s biggest performance yet.
“The festival made me feel like a rock star,” Hagerup said. “People who would never come to see us got to see our show and loved our music.”
The Art Garden, a festival staple usually based in Shelburne Falls, has resumed its volunteer-powered intergenerational craft event in the shade of a barn and tent.
According to directors Jane Beatrice Wegscheider and Laura Iveson, around 35 volunteers put together an extensive “menu of activities” for festival-goers of all ages. The variety of mixed arts and crafts stations present included wool working, wreath making and painting.
“We see a lot of people taking materials and using them for things that we’ve never really heard of,” Iveson said. “We’re all for that.”
One event involved children making two-dimensional animals out of cardboard. The collection of insects, chickens, fish and horses then paraded around the festival grounds at 6.30pm on Saturday, with the Cha Wa group behind them.
“It’s a beautiful combination of the arts,” Iveson said of having The Art Garden in tandem with a music festival.
Wegscheider observed that “some families will spend all of their time” at the festival participating in art garden activities. Others, she said, kept crafts from previous festivals for years in their homes.
“We are a whole community with each other,” Wegscheider said. “We are inspired by each other.”
Lined up alongside an array of other craft tents and vendors, Pittsfield-based Daisy Stone Studio was proud to marry their designs with the Green River Festival. The studio sold attendees hand-woven flower wreaths, consistent with what one might imagine when imagining the atmosphere of a large outdoor music festival.
“When someone comes to the booth, it’s just magical,” said founder Susie Hanna. “They put the crown on and they light up. We give them a gift, but they also give us a gift.
Like guests at The Art Garden, Daisy Stone Studio clients sometimes cherish their pieces for the long haul, Hanna said.
“Some people keep their crowns all year round,” she said, after watching the return of “familiar faces” and expressing their appreciation. “It is very moving.”
Hanna has even spotted her creations on stage, worn by musicians.
Perhaps the greatest display of visual art resided in the fairgrounds’ Roundhouse, which organizer Dawn Barrett turned into an art gallery. She curated works from past clients, friends and family to transform a space that was in a “really rough” state into a suitable environment to enjoy local art and refreshments as part of the festival’s VIP lounge.
“I think it’s historic,” she said of the Roundhouse. “I think it’s fantastic. I want to see it used more often.
The art on display represented a variety of styles, which Barrett said reflected the artists responsible.
“Their personalities are totally expressed in their work,” she said. “It’s a funky band.”
Michael Nelson, president of the Franklin County Agricultural Society which runs the fairgrounds, said Sunday afternoon that attendees’ enthusiasm to have fun despite 90-degree temperatures helped cultivate “a really great environment.” Now in its second year at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, he said, the Green River Festival has thrived in the new venue and “everyone has a beat.”
“It was a good first event and this one turned out to be even better,” Nelson said.
As the 2022 Green River Festival comes to an end, Nelson looks forward to continuing the tradition at the fairgrounds in the future.
“I hope this is the start of many years to come because they are so fun and so great,” he said of the festival staff.