Kentucky Folklife Festival

Sept. 21, 2007 - Frankfort, KY

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

September 21, 2007: As always, I seek to "Enjoy the Ride", meaning to enjoy life and get the fullest out of it.  I continue to write these trip journals, even for the one day excursions, because there is so much richness to life, and not everything costs money.

Today, Julianne, Solomon and I headed over to Frankfort, KY for a half day or so to enjoy the Kentucky Folklife Festival. As the website indicates, the festival is intended to celebrate living traditions and diversity.  It was not a huge affair.  There were a number of tents near the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History and around the old capital building.  There was food and dancing and live music, a number of demonstrations as well.

Julianne at the Folklife Festival

We lived in Frankfort in the early 1990s and so it was fun to drive into downtown, by our old house on Second Street, across the Singing Bridge, and then into historic downtown Frankfort.  As we walked up to the festival area, our ears were filled with the sound of black gospel music coming from across the street from the Clark Center.  We went over to the tent to listen to the Lexington-based "Gospel Diamonds", an African-American gospel quartet, with sounds similar to the Blind Boys of Alabama.  We loved the harmonies and I even bought a CD, which was actually burned to a regular store-bought CD.  But some of the tunes were fabulous.  In fact, if your sound is on you should be listening to their rendition of Amazing Grace.


The Gospel Diamonds


We meandered away after the Gospel Diamonds completed their set and found numerous tents with displays related to the diversity theme of the festival.



Always the quilter, Julianne was interested in the Kentucky Quilt Trail.  I asked Sol to pose by this chopper.


Stickers on the back of the RV behind the chopper above.  I love the top one!!


Obviously, when one talks of Folk traditions in Kentucky, folk music and bluegrass are big things.  There were some booths that featured some performances and also showed how the instruments were made.  We stopped by one booth where young children had been learning to play these traditional styles.  Art Mize, a luthier from Lexington, had displays of his fiddle making as well.  Art is also a recent inductee (2001) of the Stringed Instrument Makers Hall of Fame of the Georgetown and Scott County Museum in Kentucky. Our daughter Chelsea had taken lessons from Art a number of years ago and Art's wife remembered her.  Julianne was excited because she would really like to learn to fiddle as well.  So, get ready Art!!



A youngster fiddling....Lexington master luthier and folk musician Art Mize


To me, one of the more interesting things at the festival was learning about the game called Dainty. The game apparently came from Germany in the 1800s, but was revived in 1971 by George Hauck and Charlie Vettiner in Schnitzelburg, which is a neighborhood in Louisville. Schnitzelburg is in the Germantown area of Louisville and there is a World Dainty Championship held annually in July.  This contest is held in front of Hauck's Handy Store on Goss Avenue.  The Dainty contest is open to people over the age of 45. Dainty is played in the street with two mop sticks, one 3 feet and the other 3 inches. The object is to hit the tip of the smaller stick as it lies on the ground to pop it into the air, then knock it down the street as far as possible. Contestants get three tries.  The Dainty contest record is 146 feet 5 inches.


The Official Dainty Stick



Dainty in Schnitzelburg, in front of Hauck's



Sol tries his hand at Dainty.  I think his went about 40 feet.


After passing by the four or five BBQ pits, we were getting a little hungry.  I found my way to the Burgoo place (also see the Kentucky Burgoo Page).  They had mixed up this batch in a big kettle at 4 AM and constantly stirred.  I thought I would give them a hand.  I got to eat a bowl of the tasty mixture afterwards.  If I ever make it though, it will have a lot more zing to it.  I like spicy!!  Sol got Chinese food.



This isn't Kentucky without BBQ or Burgoo


We walked with our food over to watch the dancing.  The dancing portion was sponsored by the Lexington Traditional Dance Association. They brought in a band from New England called Airdance. I had never heard of Contra Dance (also see the Wikipedia definition) before, but it really looked fun.  According to the links, Contra Dancing is a form of American folk dance in which the dancers form a set of two parallel lines which run the length of the hall. Each dance consists of a sequence of moves that ends with couples having progressed one position up or down the set. As the sequence is repeated, a couple will eventually dance with every other couple in the set. Contra Dancing was apparently all the rage in the 1800s.   I think Julianne and I could really get into something like that!!  The music was great and the dancing looked fun.  On the second dance, Sol was asked by a lady to come join in, which he did reluctantly.....



Solomon participates in Contra Dance



 More Contra Dancing



Everyone has a good time


Overall, we had a fun time at this festival.  Julianne and I enjoyed watching Solomon dance, we had some good food and we had great weather.



Julianne with Sol.  We were just bubbly!!


Finally, a nice scene of the library steeple and a church steeple in historic Frankfort


See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

Music: "Amazing Grace" by The Gospel Diamonds