Brief Impressions from FDF2012

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Another Father’s Day Festival in the books.

By nearly all accounts, it was a good one – although the comments directly following the festival always seem overwhelmingly positive. So, how was this one any better than others?

From a CBA standpoint, that really can’t be answered until the numbers come in. The festival seemed very well attended, and that’s the primary victory, it seems. It also seemed to have a large contingent of younger people, which I think is just as important – it relates directly to the organization’s charter. The music must be played!

So, we played! And played and played and played. I stayed up playing until nearly dawn Friday, and there was nothing unique about that. I jammed with old friends, and met several new ones.

I think it’s fair to say the “Dog Experiment” was a success. The place was NOT overrun by packs of out-of-control canines. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw my third or fourth dog till I remembered that this was their first year. Dogs can be bluegrass fans, it seems. By and large, it would seem our worst fears weren’t realized this year.

The CBA proved itself capable of handing over the reins for a vitally important job (Festival Director) to a new person. An organization cannot thrive if it relies on impossible-to-replace people –- there needs to be systems in place thatallow us to drop different people into important roles as circumstances dictate. Montie Elston had done the job so well, for so long, and his involvement in initiating new Festival Director David Brace made for a very orderly transition. Kudos to Montie, David AND the CBA on this!

I had the privilege of seeing the Festival through the eyes of some first timers, and they were all struck by the ARMY of smiling, happy, helpful volunteers. I tell you, Santa’s Workshop has nothing on the CBA when it comes to cheerful, dedicated helpers – they deserve a ton of credit, as does the Volunteer Coordinator Deb Livermore.

Some things never change of course, and Camp Spam was rocking day or night with pickers of all ages, shapes, and sizes. No surprise there, although no two years are alike in that hallowed place.

I haven’t heard from tons of people yet, but my personal opinion is the CBA did very well in their band selections this year, from top to bottom, on all the stages. Some years, I’m a show watcher, using jams as a break from the shows, and some years I’m a jammer, and use the shows as respite from jamming. This year, I sort of held to a middle ground, so I saw quite a few acts, if only for a few songs at a time. There was a very pleasing variety of sounds, looks and musical viewpoints – it was never dull, and frequently completely delightful.

As a CBA Board member, I am sometimes so embedded in the operations of the organization (and membership and publicity duties) that I lose sight of the real reason we’re doing all this. A TON of preparation goes into putting this event on, and the CBA sometimes seems like a mighty plant that lives quietly out of sight until it blooms magnificently several times a year. And the Father’s Day Festival remains its mightiest flower.

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