Friday morning. ClydeFEST set-up day. Saturday’s chance of rain: 95%. The entire county had watched the forecast closely all week, but on Friday, CAC made the tough call. For only the second time in 21 years, ClydeFEST would move to its rain date on Sunday.
An army of volunteers from Bold Companies and the community at large joined us to set up the field as scheduled, while we wondered if we could reach enough people with the news. Meanwhile, folks in Chatham did what Chatham folks do. Businesses, individuals, community orgs, and the local media got out their metaphorical megaphones and shouted the word with us all throughout the county, boosting our signal with gusto! Mother Nature had a new plan for ClydeFEST!
On Sunday morning, a group of amazing teens from El Vinculo Hispano/The Hispanic Liaison joined up with a slew of community members to get the field ready after Saturday’s downpour, and . . .
The result? On a beautiful and sunny Sunday, ClydeFEST 2023 saw the largest crowd in the festival’s history! Nearly 2,500 parents and kids came through the gates and entered a magical, screen-free world of arts, games, and fun! Thanks to extraordinary gifts of time, talent, and treasure by our volunteers, food vendors, artists, community booths, The Ag Center crew, and our sponsors–including naming sponsor Jester Group at Baird–joy filled the air.
There were folk-art crafts for kids to make at over a dozen booths run by community organizations and businesses. From making candy spiders to painting their clay pottery, from creating paper wings to making environmentally-conscious jewelry, kids got to take home armloads of their own creations!
And of course, Critterville was a popular spot because who does’t love paint and glitter?! Kids and parents alike got messy painting critter cut-outs, then left them to dry in the sunshine while they enjoyed the rest of the festival.
There were old-school, handmade carnival games spread all over the field, and kids reveled in the sunshine!
All afternoon, music could be heard across the field thanks to performances from Carolina Lightnin’, Farmer Eno, Adam Sampieri, Sisters’ Voices, and Deepti Sitar Ensemble on the stage.
The dance floor provided the perfect spot for Diali Cissokho to lead a drum circle.
And ClydeFEST wouldn’t be ClydeFEST without 12-time world champions the Bouncing Bulldogs! Community booth folks got a little breather since much of the crowd gathered to watch.
The beauty of Latin dance was also on display, as members of Takiri Folclor Latino dazzled the crowd in their vibrant traditional costumes.
Finally, the magical day ended again this year with a parade led by Paperhand Puppet Intervention! Anyone on the field could carry a giant puppet or sign, or just tag along for fun.
And we were thrilled to have Clyde Jones himself on the field for the day’s festivities.
It was a special day for all of us at the Chatham Arts Council, celebrating folk art in the sunshine with kids (and kids-at-heart) in Chatham County! Until next time, y’all . . .
If you wanna see more ClydeFEST fun, check out these photos!
ClydeFEST 2023 was sponsored in part by Jester Group at Baird.
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