The foot-stomping music and fun festivities are coming back to the hills of Sugarbush Hollow again this year at the third annual Springwater Fiddlers Fair and American Craft Show, on Saturday, September 17. It’s an all-day musical event the whole family can enjoy.
Although fairly new to the area, the festival was born out of the history of an older similar festival held many years ago. Pam Masterson had always dreamed of bringing back the old Fiddlers Picnic that had once been at Hemlock Park, on the north end of Hemlock Lake. “Many people around here still have fond memories of those picnics and I wanted to bring it back to the area so we could start recreating those good memories for people again,” she said.
She discussed her idea with Chuck Winship, owner of Sugarbush Hollow Farm, a maple sugar farm east of Springwater. He had already been hosting Maple Sugar Weekends and a Fall Harvest Weekend, so he heartily agreed to also provide his farm as the venue for this proposed festival.
Local artists, musicians, and people with similar interests were contacted to form a committee, the idea snowballed, found support in the community, and in 2009 the first annual Springwater Fiddlers Fair was born. That first one was a total risk; the committee was hoping for an attendance of 500, but it turned out to be a great success when over 1200 people showed up.
I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t one of those people. I missed that first one, but after hearing the accolades from friends and acquaintances, I was determined to make it to the second one last year. So on that beautiful September day, a friend and I headed for the hills.
As the roads became more hilly and curving, we were easily guided by fiddle-shaped road signs that pointed the way until we reached our destination.
We parked in a woodland meadow and boarded a shuttle bus that took us on a short jaunt down into the plush green valley of Sugarbush Hollow. As we stepped off the bus, we entered a picturesque and festive scene of music, artists and fairgoers, right there in the woods!
Paying only $5 each to get in, we first listened to a feisty performance by fiddlers onstage on the porch of the sugarhouse.
Featured on two alternating stages all day long will be performances by Almost Irish, Bland & Vandemortel, The Bruce Wayne Band, The Buffalo Suzuki Strings Fiddle Club, The Celtic Music Society, The East Hill Ramblers, Fiddles & Friends, Greybeard’s Fancy, Joan Burch, Nils Caspersson, Allen Hopkins, John Kerr, Howie Lester, Jayne & Bram Pomplas, and more. Onstage MCs Ted and John McGraw (hosts, The Old Fiddler and The Irish Party House, Sundays, WRUR 88.5 FM radio) will officially open the fair at 10 a.m., and close it at 6 p.m., followed by a Grand Jam for all musicians to join in.
We then toured displays of all the artists and crafters, both outside on the grounds and inside the sugarhouse.
I was happy to see my artistic friends, Kathy Armitage and Dottie Harrison, there, each selling their beautiful paintings and jewelry.
Twenty artists have been juried and selected for this year’s fair, all living within a 20-mile radius of Sugarbush Hollow. Their unique and high-quality handmade arts and crafts include: hand-dyed and felted clothing & accessories, jewelry and lampworked beads, wood furniture and carvings, pottery and tile, stained glass, baskets, whimsical glass yard art and birdhouses, handspun yarns and alpaca clothing, candles, soap, photos, and paintings. Several artists will also be performing demonstrations of their art or craft.
From there we hiked up the wooded trail behind the sugarhouse grounds and were delighted by to be entertained by musical performances at different twists and turns along our way.
All musicians are invited to enjoy solo playing and jamming with others, throughout the day, in the well-marked areas along the trails leading up the hill at Sugarbush Hollow. The fair also provides a variety of music workshops for adults and children.
Music workshops, at no cost to participants, will feature Making Musical Instruments (Tawn Feeney) and Singing Games (Cathy McGrath) for younger children; and Clawhammer Banjo (Howie Lester) and Fiddle Workshop (Bland & Vandemortel), for adults and older children.
Red hats and free admission are provided to all musicians, young and old, who bring a musical instrument to play while performing or attending a workshop.
At the end of our hike, we sat for a rest on a newly rough-hewn bench and listened to an interesting talk about forestry.
To connect people with nature and to educate our audience about what the Sugarbush forest can offer, the fair will be providing three forestry workshops this year on the Sugarbush Nature Trail.
Western finger Lakes Chapter, New York Forest Owners Association (NYFOA), will be presenting forest ecology all day, provide information regarding the Master Forest Owner Program and basic tree identification.
Mike Seager, past NYFOA President, will be demonstrating woodworking from noon to 4 p.m. on his hand-built lathe, reenacting the “bodgers” style of making furniture in the woods. Last year, Dean Faklis created three timber-frame benches in the woods; two now have their home in Canute Park, and one at town hall, in Springwater.
Other NYFOA members and hikers will give tours into the Sugarbush hiking trails.
As a special treat, the Rochester Mycological Association will be conducting a mushroom foray in the sugarbush forest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you want to learn about mushroom identification, get to the fair early and join them as they search for mushrooms in the forest.
By then we had worked up an appetite, so our last stop was for a bite to eat at the food vendors tent.
Several local restaurants, including The Brown Hound Bistro, Mill Creek Cafe, the Naples Hotel, and the Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters, will offer fare featuring locally-grown fresh produce and seasonal products to tempt your taste buds. Delicious snacks, meals and beverages are available all day.
Food products are also available from Sugarbush Hollow (maple syrup), Canadice Kitchens (granola, jams and cookies), K&S Foods/Woodstead (sauces), and Log Cabin Acres (honey).
We left tired, but relaxed and happy, having spent a very pleasant day. I am going back again this year, this time bringing my family-daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren-with whom I am very excited to share the experience.
The third annual Springwater Fiddlers Fair and American Arts Show is on Saturday, September 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at Sugarbush Hollow Farm, 8447 Pardee Hollow Road, east of Springwater. Admission is $5, children under 10 accompanied by an adult are admitted free. Bring your own chairs. No dogs (except service dogs) or alcoholic beverages are allowed.
The fair operates entirely on donations made by community businesses and individuals, sponsors, gate donations, community volunteers, and, most importantly, over 100 musicians who come to the fair and perform for the audience at no charge.
All proceeds go back to area communities to fund special projects. Last year a college music scholarship was given to Daniel Stenziano, a graduating student from Wayland-Cohocton Schools; this year’s project is yet to be determined.
The volunteer committee organizing the event includes: Sue Kemp Conge (artists), Anne Fischer (artists), Bob Conge (graphic designer and website), Rick Osiecki (website), Chuck Winship (grounds), Bob Radell (parking), Erin Moore (treasurer), Pam Masterson (food and workshops), Herb Tinney (music), John Kerr (sponsorship), Amy Klein (publicity), and Joe Matus (grounds). The committee is continuing to look for volunteers.
You can also follow updates on Facebook or phone 585-374-1334.
For more information, directions, local accommodations, or to volunteer, visit the fair’s website at:
Over 30 kids from the Buffalo Suzuki Strings Fiddle Club excite the audience. Click the image to enlarge.
Fairgoers enjoy an onstage performance. Click the image to enlarge
Registered Musicians can perform on two stages on the sugarhouse all day. Click the image to enlarge
Jennifer Holbrook of Springwater demonstrates her fiber arts. Click the image to enlarge
Anne Fischer, fabric artist from Canadice, displays her creations. Click the image to enlarge
Musicians can find openings on the Sugarbush Nature Trail to jam together informally. Click the image to enlarge
Diane Olson is the Editor & Publisher of The Lake Country Weekender,
Say you saw it in The Lake Country Weekender!