Silk Hope, NC – The Fall Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance wrapped up on Sunday night with one last set from festival staple Donna the Buffalo, the band bringing up members of quite a few other bands that played throughout the weekend including Mad Tea Party and The Duhks. The last day of the festival was cloudless and almost unseasonably warm. A fitting ending, it seems, for a festival that just seems to get better and more seamless every year.
There was a great turnout for the festival. Saturday’s crowd was the largest the fall Shakori Hills Festival has ever seen, forcing the coordinators to turn to overflow parking in the neighbor’s field. Official numbers are still being figured, but festival coordinator Jordan Puryear estimates about 7,000 in attendance, which he says is fairly close to this past spring’s attendance. “That makes us feel great because the spring has always been our bigger festival, and we would love to see the festivals’ attendance even out.”
The biggest problem it seems the weekend had, which turned out to be positive in the end, was that half of the festival’s power went out on Saturday night because someone hit a power line out on the road. The power company had a quick response, but it the meantime the great people at Piedmont Biofuels plugged their generator up to run the Dance Tent and the Carolina Chocolate Drops were able to play to a relieved crowd. [I’m quoting myself here as co-coordinator] “It was all so perfect because we strive to be not only a place of music, art, and fun, but we also want to educate everyone on how simple it is to use our resources in a safe and beneficial way.”
The power outage gave the festival the perfect opportunity to begin promoting their big plans for even more education and usage of natural resources to run the festival. With the help of friends at The Abundance Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to using the earth’s abundance for good, they announced the Shakori Hills Solar Project. In the near future, Shakori Hills plans on being fully powered by solar energy. With the amount of energy collected, Shakori Hills will be able to run all of their events and be able to sell excess power back into the grid. They are asking for help in this endeavor, making it a giant group effort. Anyone can sponsor a cell for just $10 each, or sponsor on a corporate level for multiple cells. Donations can be made at www.theabundancefoundation.org/solarize-shakori.
Some musical highlights include the Belleveille Outfit. New to the music scene, this Austin-based band was a crowd favorite, and were often spotted watching other bands throughout the festival. The Del McCoury Band, who requested to be on the bill this fall was a definite crowd pleaser. Nnenna Freelon was one of the most fascinating acts the Shakori Hills audience has seen. “[quote from me as festival co-coordinator] It was a different choice for us, and we heard many people talk about how Freelon and some other acts on the bill such as the local Megafaun and Puerto Rico’s Plena Libre brought the festival to a “new level” which was quiet encouraging to hear and allows us to start thinking in new ways about who will be able to perform with us in the future. We want to be a place where people just know they will have a good time even if they don’t know all the bands on the schedule. I think that is happening. People trust that we will not let them down, and to have that feeling when the festival is still in such an early stage is very comforting.”
The next festival will be the Spring Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, held April 16-19, 2009. Find out more about what’s going on at Shakori Hills year-round at www.shakorihills.org.