Kristen & Ben (Gail's niece & nephew) invited us to go to the Lake Eden Arts Festival with them. It sounded like a much needed lift in spirits to us, so we spent our Memorial Day weekend at LEAF.

Located in the North Carolina mountains just east of Ashville, the location has the Appalachians surrounding it providing a dramatic backdrop. When we arrived on Saturday morning, Lake Eden was already surrounded by tents.

The crowd was eclectic and the mixture peaceful. There were children everywhere and not a cross word or baby crying was heard the entire time we were there. People were listening to music, swimming, cooking, dancing or going to workshops.

Camp Rockmount, as it is known to many, has a historic past. Buckminster Fuller assembled the first geodesic dome where the Lakeside Stage is now located. In the mid-40's, the internationally famous Black Mountain College created "the greatest educational experiment in American collegiate history."

Some of America's great artists and thinkers of the 20th century roamed the place, using the waters and lands as a source of creative inspiration.... Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Albert Einstein, Willem de Kooning, Walter Gropius, Josef & Anni Albers and Charles Olsen were among the creative geniuses to live, learn, or teach there. The college folded in the mid-50's and Camp Rockmount was created.

There were many different styles of music on the stage at the festival...Shringara Nepal with 3 masters from Katmandu performed on their first U.S. tour, Donna the Buffalo, an acoustic folk rock group from New York, excited the festival crowd, The Persuasions with a cappella Street Music, and many more bands played throught the weekend.

To the right, a group that did not perform, set up along the lake and provided some rhythmic entertainment. I later learned that drums play a significant part in the experience of the festival. More on that later.

It was funny how Donna the Buffalo, a favorite of Ben & Kristin and their friends got their name. The group was originally called, "Dawn of the Buffalo" when they had 2,000 tee shirts ordered. In a mis-communication, the tee shirts were printed 'Donna the Buffalo' and the name stuck.

Steve and David are friends of B&K. They sell 'puzzle boxes' which are made out of beautiful hardwoods. They are called puzzle boxes because they have interlocking pieces that must be opened in a precise order to get to the inside of the box. We got to have fun while they worked.

David is wearing a creation of "The Spoonman", who had the booth next door.

Bob, "The Spoonman" makes many different items from silver spoons and forks. Besides his crown of spoons and forks, he also has a miniature musical instrument that he has crafted from forks and spoons. With his drumsticks, he is hitting the miniature cymbals and his 'tuning' fork.

Ben & Kristen had told us about Contra Dancing but told us that we would have to see it to understand it. We had never heard of Contra dancing and wanted to see it. We were pleasantly surprised and loved it, but did not get up the nerve to try it at the time. Still, it looked like so much fun and we sat for hours watching. And, when we got back to Atlanta, we took a class and danced Contra a few days later.

Gail and I researched Contra on the web and discovered that it is derived from 17th and 18th century "country dancing" from England, New England and France. The French called it 'contre' dancing and the name Contra stuck. It is a dance with a lot of patterns, swings and twirls. It is danced to Irish jigs, Bluegrass and classical music and has a caller. On the web it was called the "underground rage of the boomers!" I won't say that we are Contra dancers yet, but give us a few weeks!


I loved the way that adults and children were able to interact during the weekend. Along the main pathway was a "children's market" where the kids had their own businesses. Here, an artist sketches a portrait of his subject.
Next to the artist was this beautiful little girl reading palms.
Her sign read:

over 1 cent

One family that camped along Lake Eden set up about five tea parties in front of their tent. Here is one of the parties in session.
Being in the mountains and seeing all of the tents and the tee pee in the distance, brought out feelings of my youth and folded right into my current research of the 18th and 19th centuries. I wondered if any of my ancestors had walked in these lands over the past two centuries.  
Once I saw the tee pee in the distance and I had to walk over to see it up close. The tee pee is really large and it is interesting seeing the large opening in the top where smoke from an indoor fire could escape.  

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