(Grand Lake Stream ME) The 18th annual Grand Lake Stream Folk Art Festival opened on Saturday under sunny skies. The festival continued on Sunday.
This festival is the brainchild of Bill and Cathy Shamel and they still are prominent in organizing the very popular yearly event. Both are skilled craftsmen in their own right. Bill builds canoes and Cathy makes fabric wall art and pillows.
Bill explained to me on Saturday that his role was a minor one in starting the festival compared to his wife’s role. “She had been involved in craft shows for many years and when we moved to Grand Lake Stream she decided to bring a folk art festival here.”
The remoteness of Grand Lake Stream was an initial drawback but positive word-of-mouth has made the weekend event an annual must-see.
Folks come from long distance to present, peruse, and purchase. On hand they find not only quality items but also craftsmen demonstrating their skills.
They will also find engaging music in a separate tent set up for continuous musical performances. There were benches but many people brought their own seats and left them in the tent. While the next group of performers set up, many in the audience drifted back to the exhibits or the food tent.
Two words describe the three musical performances on Saturday that I attended – “excellent” and “diverse.”
The first performers were the UMM Ukulele Band led by Gene Nichols (music instructor at University of Maine Machias). Almost all of the participants had ukuleles of various shapes and sizes and they had a happy time singing/playing familiar tunes.
Gene had the talent to play a variety of instruments. In his group’s brief set, he entertained with the electric ukulele, tuba, and saw.
The next group I heard was the Mark Tipton Jazz Quartet. This foursome was highly professional. Mark is a truly amazing trumpet player and the men on the keyboard, bass, and drums were also excellent.
As a youngster, Mark played the violin but switched to the trumpet at age nine. He may well have been the best trumpet player I’ve ever heard.
The last act I listened to was Jim Gallant. The gentleman from New Gloucester was my favorite. Jim could play a mean guitar and sing. His music was familiar to me and his guitar-playing skills were top notch.
Jim was a familiar face to many in the audience having appeared at all of the Grand Lake Stream festivals except the first one.
I highly recommend a visit to a future Grand Lake Stream Folk Art Festival. The combination of artists, craftsmen, and musicians is certain to appeal to almost everyone.
Click on this link to see the festival’s website.
(The pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)