The Recorder – ‘A way to connect’: 36th annual Green River Festival brings attendees together through music, vendors

The Recorder – ‘A way to connect’: 36th annual Green River Festival brings attendees together through music, vendors

GREENFIELD — Attendees from the Northeast and across the country converged on the 36th annual Green River Festival over the weekend, letting the good times roll with music, crafts, vendors and family fun for all.

“It’s not just a show at a venue,” said Isabella DeHerdt, an Ashfield native and half of the indie folk duo High Tea. “It’s an event that people enjoy coming back to and saying, ‘remember when,’ and ‘I saw you last year.’ That’s something that I love about what it can do for new artists and music lovers.”

High Tea had the audience’s attention during their Green River Festival debut Sunday afternoon at the Back Porch Stage. Aside from captivating the crowd with infectious guitar licks and sweet harmonies, DeHerdt and percussionist Isaac Eliot made festival-goers feel at home between songs with witty jokes and sensitive storytelling.

“It’s a way to connect with people you would never have seen in any other way,” DeHerdt said of the occasion. “Coming back year after year, you start to see the people that are your Green River people.”

Camping community

Thursday evening and Friday afternoon saw folks getting settled into their digs in the camping section of the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Whether they came with tents or RVs, the community sentiment was clear, as fast friends were made ahead of the first scheduled act.

“We love the area and the vibe of this festival,” said Coventry, Rhode Island resident Darlene Tennent, who was taking in some sun near her RV ahead of her first camping experience at the festival. “We always wanted to [camp], but it sold out.”

Getting ready for her third time at the festival, Tennent said it’s quite well organized — she added she felt the campers were given the “VIP treatment” — and the lineup was looking great. The artists that drew her out this year were Little Feat and GA 20.

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“We just love it,” she said.

The next RV over belonged to Northbrook, Illinois residents David Ash and Linda Ring, who made the long drive for their first-ever Green River Festival to see Little Feat. Like Tennent, they are huge fans of the band.

“We do follow Little Feat, but we’re also fans of Donna the Buffalo,” Ring said.

Ash and Ring quickly became friends with their camping neighbors across from them and said they’ve been really enjoying Greenfield, including a trip to Hope & Olive for dinner when they got into town on Thursday.

The couple also praised Signature Sounds for how easy it was to get into the venue and set up their camper, while also booking great food and musical talent.

“The food options are second only to the music,” Ring said. “We are very pleased.”

Closer to the region was South Hadley resident Jordan Lassonde, who was set up for her second Green River Festival. She was the first among her friends to arrive and was chilling out underneath the tent, while waiting for others.

“It was such cool vibes last year,” Lassonde said, although she said the brutal temperatures in 2022 were tough to get through. “I think it’s becoming a yearly tradition for me and my friends. We love it.”

She said she was looking forward to seeing The Wood Brothers and Sammy Rae & the Friends, as well as discovering all sorts of new artists by walking around the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

The story behind the flower crowns

If you’ve ever wondered about the backstory of the flower crowns adorning the heads of festival-goers, thank Suzie Hanna.

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For the last nine years, Hanna has been hard at work crafting hundreds of flower crowns for attendees and artists alike. A Colrain native and now Pittsfield resident, Hanna operates Daisy Stone Studio, a wedding and flower vendor in Berkshire County. Each year, she takes the time to come back to her home county to set up a booth at the long-running music festival.

It’s the only festival Hanna does — particularly because many are during the busy wedding season — because it gives her a continued connection to her home region.

“It’s perfect for the festival. … We thought it would be great to bring flower crowns to the masses,” she joked. “It’s kind of like being a food vendor with everything being fresh.”

As a little bonus, Hanna’s crowns would be thrown into the crowd on Sunday night when her husband, Tory Hanna, took the stage with his band, The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow. This year marked the band’s second Green River Festival performance, with the first being in 2021.

Not a hair out of place

Also in the theme of festival fashion, Montague resident Rachel “Braids” Rice has run her “Rainbow Braids” hair styling booth at the Green River Festival for the past three years. She expressed she feels at home as a vendor, and that those who run shops at the fairgrounds each year have formed a special bond, even bartering services with one another.

“It’s such a friendly festival,” she said, noting that the community feeling is what keeps her coming back. “The people who run this festival really care about their vendors, and that’s not always the case at every festival.”

Rice added that she takes pride in her role contributing to the good vibes of a music festival.

“I braid people young and old,” she said, “and I think it’s awesome because it just makes people feel really good about themselves.”

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‘The nostalgia booth’

From afar, Northampton resident David Poppie’s vendor tent appears to be a place for music lovers to buy vinyl records or CDs. Those looking for something new to spin, however, may have been surprised to find each disc backed with cork.

“I’m a record dealer and I threw away thousands of records in the past,” said Poppie, whose “Groovy Coasters” business made its first Green River Festival appearance this year. “This is a way they can be recycled to a certain degree, and they’re cool.”

The Groovy Coasters booth featured hundreds of coasters upcycling records of all genres of music, from hip-hop to classic rock. Poppie said while he doesn’t own a storefront, he has attended about 10 events annually over the past eight years to sell his wares. He said his shop has functioned as “kind of like the nostalgia booth” where people would seek particular records and reminisce.

“The stories are great. That’s the best,” he said of his customers’ memories. “There are so many stories about their first record, a Broadway show they went to, something their dad or mom played for them when they were younger. It’s really cool.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or [email protected]. Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.

  • June 25, 2023