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Back Home From Homasassa

March 15, 2015
Good Morning, Y'all!
So we're back (Aly, and I) from the Homosassa festival. 2024 was our 10th anniversary (it would have been the 12th, but we lost a couple years of festival fun because of the virus a few years ago). And what a great event it was! You would have enjoyed it, I'm sure.
We've had the same exact staff for all 10 years of the event (formally known as the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat, by the way) and that's led to a lot of the charm. Each of the 10 years it has been: Bing Futch, Guy George, Sharrie George, and Richard Ash (me). We held it at a local motel the first eight years, and at a Homosassa, FL, home (VRBO style) in the post-virus years. This was definitely not your "normal" dulcimer event - in a church or a school - it was much more laid back than the more traditional venues could possibly allow.
Benefits of the giant vacation house on the Homosassa River? Lots of comfort. Privacy from other vacationers. And a genuinely nice facility (nothing wrong with schools, but...)

Here's a rehearsal of the Manatee Orchestra, led by Sharrie George, Bing Futch, and Guy George. To take this photo, I was standing on the stairs going up to the second floor. For the concerts, we used this same room, with a few extra chairs added around the perimeter of the space.

We also used this room for classes. Here, Guy is leading a pennywhistle class. There were some really comfortable chairs in this room, just off the bottom of the photo, too. Lots of padding and back support - those chairs filled up FIRST!

Here's Bing leading a Native American Flute class. He's in the backyard gazebo - with a great view of the Homosassa River. I used the gazebo for a few of my classes, too. We could easily seat 18 mountain dulcimer players - with their instruments - within the space.

This handsome critter (a Great Blue Heron, I believe) was very, very interested in my Galax-tuning mountain dulcimer workshop. He walked in circles around the gazebo for most of the class. And then actually came up into the center of the gazebo, to be surrounded by dulcimer players, for a few minutes. This bird was somewhere between three and four feet tall, and not at all shy being around musicians.

There was a "green room" where people left their cases and miscellaneous "stuff" during the classes. It seems like a LOT of the people at this festival had their Folkcraft and FolkRoots dulcimers with them on the trip, so our cases were spotted all over the building!

One of the disadvantages of a Florida festival is the long drive from Woodburn, Indiana. Google Maps says 16 hours and 15 minutes, but Aly and I stretched out the drive to two days. I think there are more cars stopped here on I-75 (in Atlanta, in case you didn't guess) than exist in all of Woodburn. Driving in traffic like this makes me really appreciate living in a small town (about 1600 people) that has a single stop sign on the biggest road. And zero stop lights. 
So what's next for Folkcraft, and for dulcimer festivals?
Kentucky Music Week in June, followed by the ODPC Funfest in August, followed by the Forest City, PA, edition of Bing's "Expedition Dulcimer."
Thanks for reading, Y'all - Have a great weekend!
Richard Ash - luthier-who-would-rather-make-instruments-than-sit-still-on-the-Atlanta-interstate