Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 2006

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 2006 NOMAD Festival, November 3-5, 2006, at the Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT.

We are still experimenting to find the best way to use the pleasant, modern facilities at Wilbur Cross High School. One experiment that succeeded beyond our expectations was use of the beautiful front foyer as a performance space.  We did have a few sound bleed problems which we are working to overcome, but performers and audiences enjoyed the space. We think the music and activity helped create a festive atmosphere for people entering the building, and everyone enjoyed the sunlight and the autumn colors visible through the wall of windows. We were especially pleased with a visit from our old friends, the Kartuli Ensemble, who entertained an appreciative SRO audience with choral music from the Republic of Georgia. Other good friends who made use of this wonderful new space were Robert Messore displaying his virtuosity on guitar, the Greater Hartford Scottish Country Dancers, and banjo virtuoso Roger Sprung.

More people are discovering the delights of the V wing. The V wing rooms are located at the opposite end of the cafeteria from the gyms and are the venues for intimate concerts, family activities, and in-depth discussions of musical traditions.  It is definitely worth the short walk. In 2006 the V Wing provided venues for such diverse presentations as the Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet, Songs and Stories of the Underground Railroad with Nzinga’s Daughters, West Gallery Music and Shape-Note Singing with Bruce Randall, Songs of Cowboys, Outlaws and Scoundrels with Woodchucks’ Revenge, a Chantey Blast hosted by Mystic Seaport chanteyman Geoff Kauffman, a Ballad Blast for lovers of song-stories, Irish fiddle and flute music with Damien and Sally Connolly, and many more acts too numerous to list.

We had two new food vendors this year.  La Carreta Mexican specialties and Elm City Kettle Corn tempted our taste buds with their delicious fare. Our mainstay vendors, the Hamden Plains Church catering group coordinated by Anthony Moore, are just amazing.  Their variety of tasty and satisfying dishes warmed the hearts as well as the stomachs of many hungry NOMAD attendees.  Our good friends the Scottish Country Dancers provided coffee and dessert.  They have been part of NOMAD almost from the beginning, and their Sunday morning oatmeal (porridge) is an annual treat that many of us look forward to.

The vendors in the crafts bazaar were very happy with their new location in the cafeteria.  They were right in the middle of things, and they helped make the cafeteria the heart of the festival as it was in our early years at Newtown.  We hope this positive energy will help attract more vendors to the upcoming festival.  Several of our vendors, including Eastern European Emporium, Alamo Styles, Folk Legacy Records, and Celtic World have been with us from those early years.  They are part of the family!

As usual, the two gymnasiums attracted large crowds of enthusiastic dancers all weekend long. There were events in both gyms for every hour of the festival this year, from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday. We presented a full program of Contra Dancing, interspersed with English Country, Scottish, Zwiefache, and Squares. With all that vigorous dancing we do a good job of keeping ourselves warm in the main gym, but thanks to a computerized central heating system we sometimes get just a mite too warm. We will contact the school engineers in advance of the 2007 festival to try to have the temperature lowered for our event.

The auditorium stage provided space for a wide variety of participatory international dancing. The styles we enjoyed this year included Scandinavian Turning Dances, Russian Cossack Dances, Colonial Cotillions, Balkan Dances, Breton Dances, Italian Dances, and many more.

For next year we hope to produce a festival just as jam-packed with activities.

As a dance and music festival NOMAD depends heavily on knowledgeable sound volunteers to keep the music playing.  If you or someone you know has experience with sound system operation for dances or concerts, please get in touch with us.  NOMAD can’t happen without a sound crew.

In fact, we need volunteers for all aspects of the festival.  NOMAD is an all-volunteer festival.  We need people to serve on the organizing committee and others to help during the festival.  Please consider becoming a volunteer.
Volunteers receive discounts on festival admission and lots of love!  Please contact us at 860-355-9029 or by email to learn how you can help with future festivals!

We hope to see you in November 2007.

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