By Kristi Kates
The first festival of summer may be a surprise to many residents of
Northern Michigan, being located in out-of-the-way Mio in Oscoda
County, but make no mistake -- the Nor-Eastr Festival packs a punch,
with 19 musical acts and much more.
The June 11-13 festival definitely has its plate full. Nineteen
acts are scheduled for this year, with music beginning at 5 p.m. on
Friday night, and ending around 5 p.m. on Sunday. Headlining are blues
artists Madcat, Kane and Maxwell Street from Ann Arbor; modern
honky-tonk from New Yorks Sweetback Sisters; gypsy music from
Massachusetts band Caravan of Thieves; and Michigans own Orpheum
Bell. Other Michigan artists appearing include Rootstand, AnDro, Blue
Water Ramblers, the Song Weavers of Petoskey, and the Orion Community
Drummers, who will be leading a drum kiva.
And the music is all for a good cause.
The first Nor-Eastr Festival was held in 2003, Buffy Galer
explains, it was born of a need for activities for young people in
this area, and nostalgia for the varied activities that the Oscoda
County Fairgrounds used to house, and was fully capable of housing
Galer, the president and founder of the fest as well as a Licensed
Veterinary Technician, remembers attending small music festivals with
her family - as a child, she had the idea to organize a small scale
festival event on the family farm to help raise money for her
terminally-ill brothers hospital bills - and that was part of her
impetus for starting the Nor-Eastr along with help from friend
OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
Education and cultural appreciation was the core component of our
plan for the NorEast-r, Galer explains, Among our goals were to
create a good performance stage - which we did in 2005; to provide
college scholarships - which we were able to start in 2009; and to
create more economic opportunity within the region. By year three of
the Nor-Eastr, more help was needed, which is how current treasurer
Nancy Miller got involved.
We are the first festival of summer, Miller says, we try to provide
a diverse collection of musicians and artists; our mission is to
provide opportunities to celebrate folk culture in Michigan.
Now in its eighth year, the Nor-Eastr keeps growing - quietly - which
Miller claims is part of its appeal.
One charm of the festival is that it is small and intimate, she says,
festivalgoers can mingle with the performers, especially in the
workshops and at the parking-lot picking. Another charm we have is
shade - something you dont find at other festivals, she laughs.
There are trees to sit and camp under, and the grounds are flat and
mowed for walking about. We also have the use of all the fairground
buildings (for the event); the second stage - called The Parlor - is
inside, where you can have breakfast or lunch and listen to the music.
There is also an inside rain site for workshops if necessary, and
were starting a third area, The Dance Hall, where there will be a
dance on Saturday night, a couple of workshops, and an open mic on
Festival-goers will find much to offer beyond the stage acts. There
will be 19 musical workshops, Miller says, and completing the other
half of the festival will be many art vendors, six of which will be
doing art workshops. Well also be having a guitar giveaway for kids
under 18, to encourage young people to learn and participate in music
and art; well be giving away 12 guitars this year.
The Nor-Eastr is also giving away two scholarships at the festival
to students going into college for music or art. And Millers wish is
that the community will continue to support the festival itself, as
We hope to grow a little, and have enough money to put on Nor-Eastr
number nine, Miller says,
The 2010 Nor-Eastr Music and Art Festival will take place June 11-13
at the Oscoda County Fairgrounds, 1889 Caldwell Road in Mio, just off
M-33. More info and ticket prices can be found at www.noreastr.net or
by calling the Mio Chamber of Commerce at 989-826-3331.