TUNKHANNOCK — The sixth annual Cornstock Folk Festival provided a Labor Day weekend filled with bluegrass and roots music at Lazy Brook Park. People from out of town parked their campers and RVs to enjoy acoustic performances and the scenery of the Endless Mountains. They brought their lawn chairs or bean bags to sit in and watch the local folk and bluegrass bands perform on the main stage decorated with corn stalks. Tiki torches at the park were wrapped with cornstalks, as well.
Wildness, whose nickname was given to him by a friend, stood up and fist pumped to the music of Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, which blends bluegrass with rockabilly. He came from Hagerstown, Maryland and visits music festivals around the United States, including DelFest, which takes place in his home state. This is his second time at Cornstock, and the friends he meets there become like family when they camp together.
“It’s more than a festival and concert,” said Wildness. “It’s a family get-together. Everybody is so kind.”
Bringing a bicycle cart for their dogs Jayne and Sheba to lie on, Bradley Gleason and his wife Jennifer came to the festival from Bath, NY for the fourth time. They heard about the event from an ad at Music in the Park in Hammondsport, NY.
“It’s small and intimate,” Bradley said about the festival. “I love everything about it. Beautiful park.”
“The big thing is that it’s dog-friendly,” added Jennifer.
Musicians JP Biondo and Chris Kearney, both from Scranton, played soothing bluegrass and country music on the main stage.
“It’s one of my favorites,” Biondo said about Cornstock. “Good vibes. Lots of people smiling.”
Kearney is a band member of the Pennsylvania bluegrass band called Hickory Project, which consists of Ed Lick and the two founders of the Cornstock Folk Festival, Anthony Hannigan and his wife Jillian. Their music is acoustic and deeply rooted in bluegrass but also blends other genres such as Celtic, jazz, swing and blues.
Anthony is a longtime friend of Johnny Braz, creative director of the festival’s biggest sponsor Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, which provides a safe haven for farm animals.
“This is our fourth year sponsoring,” said Braz.
Braz has been friends with Anthony since the two were in fifth grade at Abington Heights Middle School. In exchange for sponsoring the festival, Hickory Project will perform at Indraloka’s upcoming event called Thanksliving, at which turkeys will be given a meal instead of becoming the meal.
Indraloka Animal Sanctuary vended items and provided free items. There were also signups for their Moosletter.
Food vendors included Gringo Taco, The Pork Dude, Manning’s Ice Cream, Our Pasture Raised & Grass Fed Meats, and Horr’s Specialty Hot Dogs.
Other vendors included oil paintings and prints from Melissa’s Art Space.
The event also catered to kids with its Kid Zone, which provided an inflatable obstacle course, crafts, games and an instrument petting zoo.
A first for the Cornstock Folk Festival, a wedding took place on the main stage. Hank “Henry” Ahrensfield, who emceed the festival by announcing the bands, performed a wedding ceremony ritual for Jennifer Hobbs and her new wife Stacey Hobbs, from Haddon Heights, New Jersey.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere,” said Ahrensfield. “You know you’re doing something right when you can marry people on stage at your festival.”
This was Jennifer’s and Stacey’s first time at the festival which they learned about from an ad online.
“It’s so beautiful,” said Jennifer. “A nice, loving vibe and beautiful music.”
Across the Nicholson Township Lenticular Truss Bridge, Dear John, an acoustic band from Paris, France, sang angelic, bluegrass songs.
“We know people who were organizing it, and they invited us,” said Leo Guillaume, one of the singers.
“We are discovering great things,” added singer Stephanie Colin. “The atmosphere is great. It’s very chill.”
The Creekside Stage also hosted workshops of many instruments such as mandolin, banjo, and Dobro. Chad Darou of Chad Darou and the Chad Darou Band performed the Dobro and answered questions about the stringed instrument. He explained that Dobro is the trade name of a resonator guitar, an instrument he’s been playing for 30 years.
Darou is soon doing a physical CD release of his debut album called Raising the Bar which has been on bluegrass radio for two weeks and is already ranked #10 in the Bluegrass Top 50 chart.
Darou got to perform with Hickory Project this weekend as he has known Anthony and Jillian for 10 years. The Hanningans got to play in Darou’s Celtic band in Jefferson County, NY.
“It’s kind of a reciprocal thing,” said Darou. “They (Hannigans) come play with me, and I come play with them. They both work so hard to make this (festival) happen. I think they do a wonderful job. They bring a real eclectic mix of folk and Americana. It’s not just a bluegrass festival.”
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