The Connecticut Folk Festival and Green Expo drew a crowd of a few thousand to New Haven’s Edgerton Park on Saturday for an afternoon of song, puppetry and climate action.
The event, which was organized by Connecticut Folk, a Westville-based organization dedicated to music and sustainability, took place throughout the entire day. During the afternoon, visitors perused a variety of booths doling out information on ‘green’ topics or selling small goods. Some set up lawn chairs in front of the festival’s main stage, and settled down to enjoy a folk music performance from one of the 13 artists in attendance. Most, however, spent the afternoon wandering the grounds, often with dogs or young children in tow.
The beautiful weather, fun activities and sense of community make the Expo a great day outing, said Kathy Moran, a board member of CT Folk.
“It’s a great event for families and kids. And you get to hear the kind of music you don’t always hear on the radio.” Moran said. “What better way can you spend a whole afternoon at the park?”
Thanks to a longstanding policy of free admission, the event was open to everyone, though the organizers did ask visitors to make a small donation. Last year, over 2,500 people attended the event, Moran said. This year, thanks in part to fortuitous weather, that number was likely even higher.
Throughout the day and into the night, musical performances from three different tents could be heard throughout the fair. The main stage featured musicians chosen by the CT Folk’s booking committee as well as the winners of a songwriting competition organized earlier this year. Quite a few of the sets echoed themes of nature, peace and brotherhood, many of which were reflected in the Green Expo itself.
While the main stage drew the largest crowd, a large tent wedged between a few of the vendors was home to a small collection of musicians. Their performance incorporated members of the audience, who were handed a mixture of tambourines, shakers and drums to play. While this drew the interest of quite a few children, a fair number of adults joined in as well.
While the folk music drew quite a crowd, the most popular tents were those selling knick-knacks and items of clothing. Many of the small goods were handcrafted, from owls painted on driftwood to crocheted octopi. The vender that received the most attention, however, was the face-painting stand. A line of children waiting to be transformed into an animal or superhero reached around the block, many waiting for one of the kid friendly attractions such as Kids Yoga or the Puppet Parade to begin.
It was attractions such as those that drew in residents who may not otherwise be interested in the Green Expo, like Jim Scialabba, who said he brought his granddaughter to the event after reading about it in the New Haven Register.
“It’s been really interesting, even though it’s kind of out of our comfort zone,” Scialabba said with a laugh.
While many gravitated towards the commercial sections of the Expo, others engaged with the many climate change activist groups in attendance. 350 CT, an organization that champions the use of renewable energy over fossil fuels, has been attending the Expo for over eight years.
Susan Miller, a member of 350 CT, said she was emboldened to join a number of climate change action groups by the results of the 2016 presidential election. Adding that citizens can effect change on a local level regardless of federal environmental policies, Miller said 350 CT comes to the Expo to share information about the organization and garner support.
“One of the most locally fought and won issues, is stopping fracked gas waste from coming through certain towns. As a resident of Windsor, we actually passed a ban on that,” Miller said. “We’re trying to push at a state level, to ban it throughout the whole state.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2016, 4.2 percent of Connecticut’s net electricity generation came from renewable energy.
Maya Chandra | firstname.lastname@example.org