Monday before the Fall Festival was a lovely soft morning in Brasstown, with a low cloud just burning off. I was on the way to Morningsong and just about to walk in the big red door at Keith House, when a car roared into the driveway. “Jan!” the guy said, “Hey! This is my fiancé.” “Howdy. Howdy.” “Met her right here! We’ve just moved to Brasstown! See you this weekend!” That was pretty much the conversation, except the speeding off and a waved “Woo hoo!”
At the coffee pot, a blacksmith—you get good at knowing this sort of thing, when you’ve been at it a while—greets me, “Jan! You’re still here! I made a knife here ten years ago! Been trying to come back ever since. Say, did you happen to find my Jar Jar Binks mug?” I assured him that if he left it here, it was probably still here because nobody we know would take it.
Next Fall Fest prep sends me to the fire station for a brief with the chief. Chief Paulette shows me the reddest truck I’ve ever seen. Brasstonians love their firepersons, for their service and dedication, and especially for their t-shirts that say “What’s the BFD?” The sign at the Brasstown Fire Department says “We remember JD.” And we do. Chief Robinson, a Folk School music teacher, trained lots of good people in music and firefighting, saved lives, and sang “When You’re Smiling.” At the hot summertime Little/Middle Folk School over the years, he sprayed about 10,000 children with the firehose. Chief Paulette reports BFD is ready for the estimated 15,000 attendees at the Festival.
Showers on Tuesday. At the Tuesday night dance, I got to play fiddle. There was a huge crowd including lots of Hayesville High students and international exchange students from—wow!—Denmark! Bob called such a great dance that some of the kids asked their teacher if they could dress up and come to the Folk School dance instead of their usual prom because, like, here we dance. But it rained an inch today. Weather forecast really sucks for this weekend. (This festival has been every year for 41 years. It’s never been called off.)
Morris Dancers practice Wednesday night in the Festival Barn. They look better than ever, and are really ready to dance and sell beef. All over Brasstown and far off, craftspeople are finishing pieces, wrapping everything in bubble wrap and loading their vans for the festival. It’s overcast tonight. Almost no rain. Could it be clearing up?
Thursday, all the Festival gates are erected, traffic flow fencing and signage in place. Sheriff’s departments of Clay and Cherokee Counties, NC Highway Patrol, and cat and dog giveaways from the Humane Society are all ready for action. But it’s really raining—about an inch and a half today. The Festival depends on our being able to park cars in our fields, on about 100 acres of grass. All of Thursday night and early Friday morning, we watch the rain, see the water rising, and hope for a miraculous turnaround.
Friday morning at 7:30, I cancel the Fall Festival. Sad, but necessary, because old dude in a Taurus, like me, would have gotten stuck and broke his fiddle.
Since we are the Folk School, we got right back to having fun as soon as possible. We had a great Donor Party on a rainy Saturday night. I’m sorry most of our donors couldn’t be there, but you were toasted and honored. There was Morris Dancing and music by the Chompin’ at the Bit String Band. And the Saturday night dance was lovely, and life goes, pretty much, on. Classes started right away and we were soon back up to our usual high level of creativity.
You win some, you lose some, and some get hit with a one-in-a-thousand-year rain event. You probably love the Folk School or you wouldn’t be getting this letter. If you do, it would be a great time to send a generous donation. We sort of took a bath this year.