The Historical Society of Rockland County hosted its annual Fall Family Festival Sunday afternoon. The festival featured a Rockland Traditional Drummers’ Summit, a book sale, and different Rockland groups displaying their work and giving their information to visitors.
“We’ve tried to make it like an old-fashioned country fair,” said Winston Perry, the event’s chairman. “We have activities for children, we have exhibits for grown-ups. Out back, there’s a barn that’s just been restored that has a wonderful collection of farm equipment and tools. We have army re-enactors. In front of the barn, we are selling some of our surplus and duplicate tools and books.”
The barn was lined with items such as a cider press, a yoke, and a child’s cart. The event attracted approximately 200 to 300 visitors throughout the afternoon.
Also open to the public was the 1832 Jacob Blauvelt home; costumed docents showed visitors the rooms, which were furnished with 19th century furniture. A string band played tunes in front of the barn.
The Rockland Farm Alliance, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, and the Heritage Quilters of the Hudson Palisades were present at the festival and exhibited their work to visitors. Children were invited to paint a Keep Rockland Beautiful trash can. Visitors could also visit Susan Salazar to learn how to make candles at her table.
The Drummers’ Summit featured performances from Frisner Augustin and La Troupe Makandal, Christian Kutte and Morgan Greenstreet with Chiku Awali Dancers, and Danny Del Valle. The musicians represented three Rockland-based ethnic backgrounds: Augustin and his group represented Haiti, Kutte and his group represented Ghana, and Del Valle and his group represented Puerto Rico.
The Summit started off with each group playing a few of their own songs. Next was a discussion portion moderated by Eileen Condon, who coordinated the program. The musicians named and described the instruments they were playing. Condon asked each performer to talk about who influenced them as artists and how long they have been performing. The groups also fielded questions from the audience.
“We had a chance for the musicians to enjoy each others’ music as well as present the music to a crowd,” Condon said. “There’s some people that are familiar with these traditions, but I think for the most part, it was something new for people in the audience, although we did have one gentleman get up and start playing the bell with Danny Del Valle.”
The summit concluded with all three groups playing together to create one final performance.
“I always measure a program’s success to some degree by how moved the audience is to get up and participate,” Condon said. “We had the dancers kind of participating with each other. It’s nice to see people in related traditions appreciate each other and give each other that support.”
The Drummers’ Summit was funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.
“It’s funded specifically through the Folk Arts Program,” Condon said. “One of the mandates for the presentation grants is that the audience be not only entertained- obviously it’s engaging and it’s entertaining and it’s fun- but to provide some education. And so it was presented not as a performance but a performance and a discussion.”