Edgerton Park, a 20-acre area at the border of New Haven and Hamden, was transformed into a free fair Saturday, featuring folk music, food trucks and family fun for the 27th annual Connecticut Folk Festival.
This year marks the third year the festival, hosted by New Haven nonprofit CT Folk, was free for the nearly 2,500 Connecticut residents and out-of-state guests who attended the event. Over 75 local craftsmen and nonprofits had booths at the conservation-themed festival, with 15 artists from across the country performing from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Folk music is a very old tradition and it embodies protest songs with social messages, singer-songwriter music, Bluegrass, Americana, Roots, Blues and more, so at this festival there is really something for everyone,” CT Folk Board of Directors President Barbara Shiller said.
She added that the festival typically includes a musical set by the Professors of Bluegrass, featuring University President Peter Salovey on bass. Unfortunately, Salovey missed this year’s festival due to a previously arranged trip to China.
In addition to music, the festival has always had a strong focus on conservation and environmentalism, Shiller explained. The Folk Festival began in 1989 to raise funds for the Farmington Canal Rail To Trail and today provides the opportunity for a host of different green organizations to hold exhibitions.
Chris Schweitzer, a New Haven resident tabling for the New Haven Climate Movement, said the festival provides an opportunity for him to talk to people and connect with other like-minded organizations such as Massaro Community Farms, an organic farm in Connecticut.
Pamela Torola ’18, who spent the day volunteering for New Haven Healthy City Healthy/Climate Challenge, said she hopes to educate people about the environmental and health impacts of beef consumption.
Attendees had a range of reasons for coming to the festival, but everyone interviewed expressed a shared satisfaction with the experience.
“[The Festival] is great; it’s so cute,” said Stanford resident Grace Nixon-Peterson, who attended the event with a college friend. She added that she particularly enjoyed the contra dancing, a group folk-dancing activity that lasted for two hours and drew patrons of all ages.
A couple from Woodbridge told the News that they have attended every CT Folk Festival for more than six years because they enjoy the music. Jenessa Payano Stark NUR ’19 said her family attended for the first time this year as the festival sounded like a fun, child-friendly way to spend the day together.
Activities at the festival included yoga, puppet making and chair-seat weaving, led by different local organizations. A variety of eateries, including Ashley’s Ice Cream and Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, sold food to festival attendees throughout the day.
This year’s festival took nine months of planning and 25 hours of on-site setup, according to Festival Director Nicole Heriot-Mikula. She said she hopes to see more Yale students in attendance in the future.
“It is in the city where they go to school, it is a free festival and the best way to get involved is to get out and be a part of it,” she said. “We encourage everyone to come on out even if they think it isn’t their scene. It is an incredible opportunity to really see a staple of something that has been a part of New Haven’s culture for over 20 years.”