July 20, 2019: A Grand Affair
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. ” Anais Nin
We just finished with one of our favorite events each year. Tucked in a remote area of northern Maine, is the Grand Lake Stream Folk Art and Music Festival. Begun as a wisp of a dream, it just celebrated its 25th year. Recognized by Yankee Magazine as one of the best in New England, the show brings in wonderful artists, musicians and visitors who come from miles away to the tiny town of Grand Lake Stream, whose winter population hovers in the sixties.The founders, Cathy and Bill Shamel (talented fiber artist and musicians), shared on Saturday how this dream became a reality through determination, perseverance and the collaboration with an incredibly supportive group of believers and volunteers.
We first attended this event as customer years ago, after hearing about it from friends who live locally. To get there, you drive through miles and miles of Maine woods where you see more animals than any sight of humans. While driving down the seemingly endless roads, it’s hard to believe anything of this show’s purported magnitude would take place in such a remote area. Yet arriving in the tiny town, the center field was filled with huge tents, and the place was alive with attendees and music wafting in the air.
The festival brings in artists and musicians from all over New England and beyond. In the crafts tent, I’m always in awe of the diversity and talents of the different types of artists.The large open music tent has a stage, where gifted performers change every hour. Situated where we are in the Arts & Crafts tent, we can’t always hear the performances,; but in the booth beside us is Dragonfly Instrumentals. The artists create beautifully crafted instruments from a hammered dulcimer to guitars, invite visitors to play, inspiring impromptu concerts all day long with other musicians who stop by.
Impromptu concerts delighted our customers and us
It’s a well planned event with something for everyone. There’s a wide variety of activities to do and see. like a quilting tent, with a gorgeous array of quilts and children’s tent to a handcrafted canoe exhibition area. In the food tent. you’ll find more than just fair food with items like gumbo and pulled pork to lobster rolls and ice cream sundaes. A small admission fee, $8 for one day, $12 for two days) is a nominal fee for what visitors find. It’s also dog friendly, where the only concession is to keep furred friends behaved and on leash
Our good friend and talented Molly Harper of Soul Pine Pottery
attended this show as a vendor for the first time and loved it!https://www.soulpinepottery.com
Each year, Cathy Shamel designs a special, folk art , t-shirt for the festival. A group of young people ranging from 6th grade through high school wear the whimsical shirts, and are an intrinsic part of the event from set-up and support for the artists and visitors, to the two days it takes to pull everything down.
What began as a dream so many years ago, has built a community that comes together each year in the belief that Arts and Music should be celebrated. From reuniting and/or meeting new fellow artists to our returning customers, Ron and I both feel honored to be included in this community and love the time we’re there. Always held on the last weekend in July, it’s a joyful event that once attended will remain in your memory, long after the final notes have been played.