Day 47: Interstate Tour 2018
Once upon a time, someone, I think it was Rick Thum, said "you need to go to Evart." Music festival goers tend to refer to events by where they're held as opposed to what they're actually called, so "Evart" is what folks call the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest, the longest-running, and largest, dulcimer festival in the United States.
Held at the Osceola County Fairgrounds, this is a huge event with thousands of attendees, dozens of workshops, tons of jams and three evenings of concerts, which are held in the main grandstand. The whole thing feels like a county fair for music (the location helps, workshops are held in the animal barns) and the activity level is way up there. So's Evart, Michigan - very far from Orlando, Florida or any of the locales that I typically travel from. It's inexpensive to camp, close to free to get in and the performers and instructors work for free. So, how does an artist justify driving up to central Michigan to participate?
By selling your wares. And be aware, you should have a lot of wares, because the vending areas at the funfest are one of the hottest locations at the event. It took me a while to finally get up here, but I haven't missed a year since - it's that good (and it's my best sales week of the entire year.)
A few years back, Stephen Seifert and I co-taught a 3-Day Mountain Dulcimer Intensive just before Evart and it was a smash success, so we've continued doing it each year. This time around, Stephen opted to not attend, so I'm running the 3-Day alone and had a nice little pre-registration drive of sign-ups. I called the office to have the OJ North room unlocked and then set-up my video recording gear, waiting for the first folks to show.
And show they did - with some walk-ins to boot. I'm teaching nine two-hour sessions, three each for beginners, intermediate and advanced. Each session is being recorded so that I can share the video with the students for reference along with their printed resource materials. We had to relocate to the vendor barn when the piano tuner came along during the first session and worked on the piano, but we returned after lunch for the remaining two sessions. Though a smaller group than we've had in the past, this was a blessing because the student-teacher ratio was much better all around and they were able to ask questions and get clarification on points. This can be difficult at an event where class numbers can creep into the triple digits.
After three fun classes, I headed back to Imua and began working with the video. Fair wi-fi was fabulously robust for a while and I got a lot of work done, but then it got crappy and work began to slow to a crawl. Still, a good amount of the groundwork on the videos was completed and I also shot a Mailbag Monday segment for Patreon as well as starting work on editing Dulcimerica episode 399 for release on Friday.
My list of things-to-do is pretty huge, so I've consigned myself to huddling over the computer for the start of the week to knock this stuff out so that I can be free to roam about the fairgrounds Wednesday through Saturday night. This is not a festival where you come to catch up on your sleep - this place gets jumping and it doesn't stop till it's time to do the day all over again, which I love and I can't wait for things to fire up...
...actually, I can wait just a little bit. I need to finish this work so that I feel good about the progress. Especially now that I've got decent wi-fi - where I'm heading next week, this might not be the case.
Lights out at midnight - Tuesday's going to be a busy one.