Voices Journal Volume 2012:1-2

Edited by Todd DeGarmo

Articles In This Volume

"Local Sustainability in the Battenkill Valley"

“Sustaining Culture: A Regional Conversation” was the topic for the historic Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Folklorists Retreat in Saratoga Springs, May 22–25, 2012, in partnership with Folklorists in New England, the Folk Arts Program of New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York Folklore Society. Participants hailed from as far away as Washington, DC, up to northern New York State and east through the New England states.

Book Review

Koenig describes becoming aware that, though he had initially traveled to Bulgaria to study traditional dance, he believed it was his responsibility to document all of the village culture he encountered during his fieldwork.... Voices and Images of Bulgaria is an important work because it captures a lost society and at the same time documents more than 20 years of committed fieldwork.


As folklorists and educators, we believe the qualitative experiences of individual students are at least as significant as the quantitative data. Working in classrooms with new immigrants, we often work with students who refuse to speak at school—they’re often called “selective mutes.” Arts education is a way to change those behaviors. In the arts, teaching artists like George [Zavala] use words and attach them to something the students are doing—when you say the word “red,” you paint with red. We often see kids start to speak very quickly.


My mother-in-law’s name was Fern. She set an example in her mastery of all the survival techniques that are necessary for living in the Adirondacks...She was particularly good at scrounging in the woods. She knew where all the berries were—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and even wild grapes. During apple season, she hiked around sampling all the wild apple trees to find the best ones.... At the same time, she kept a huge garden....The crowning glory of the tomato crop was her chili sauce, and she was pretty famous for it.

From the Director

In July 2012, the New York Folklore Society was asked to help document the second reunion of Camp Woodland campers—a gathering of people from all over the US who shared the childhood experience of once attending a children’s camp which had existed in Phoenicia, New York, from 1939–1962.

From the Editor

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has been the inspiration for my work in public sector folklife for some 30 years....Some 10 years later, in the mid nineties, AFC helped create my home base, the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

Growing Community in the Courthouse Community Garden

Currently in its fourth season, the Courthouse Community Garden’s evolution into a community fixture in Salem, New York, started more than four years ago from an idea tossed around for at least a couple of years before the seed of the idea took hold. The mission statement reads in part: The Courthouse Community Garden (CCG) includes an enthusiastic group of individuals that have come together... to plant a garden on a parcel of land adjacent to the Courthouse Community Center campus in Salem...[to] offer opportunities to teach youth of all ages to grow, process, and market food, developing intergenerational community relationships.

Keeping Watch:

My poetry has quite naturally turned to the natural world and the people of my major folklore fieldwork area—the western mountain and lake region of Maine—where I have been writing about the Richards, a family of loggers and homemakers, woodcarvers, storytellers, and knitters, as well as about others in the community: hunters, river drivers, schoolteachers, and more. The challenges of doing fieldwork in logging country, in a town of twelve hundred souls about 40 miles from hospitals and other services, also claims its space in my writing, both of poetry and ethnography.

Long Ago and Far Away

In February 1901, a group of businessmen representing the recently incorporated Saratoga Floral Association visited New Orleans to observe Mardi Gras and to purchase the floats and costumes from that year’s Rex Pageant.... The floats were to be used for Saratoga’s fete, which was planned as a four-day event starting on September 2 with a ball to be held at Convention Hall and concluding on September 5....

Low Bridge, Everybody Down!

Canal season may be over, but at The Erie Canal Museum in November 2012, the music of the Canal resounded in “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!: An Erie Canal Music Celebration.” The two-day public celebration, co-organized by The Erie Canal Museum and The New York Folklore Society, was the first-ever event devoted exclusively to an exploration of the rich musical heritage created, developed, and transmitted by means of the Erie Canal. Workshops, concerts, presentations, discussions, and displays provided activities that appealed to a wide variety of audiences.

Voices in New York

Grupo Rebolú’s CD, Abriendo Caminos (or Opening Roads), offers the listener 10 high energy tracks featuring the sounds of Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast. Nine of these tracks were written by the group’s director, Ronald Polo, with arrangements by co-director, Morris Cañate. Friends since childhood, Ronald and Morris grew up together in Barranquilla, Colombia, and first met as youngsters enrolled in the Escuela de Música de Barranquilla, Carlos Franco.


As Stephen Colbert says, “Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America’s obesity statistics. Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.” ... As a folklorist, I’m often interested in the context of human events. Besides, the what that happened, I want to know about the who, where, when, why, and how. Large celebrations almost always include food. Thanksgiving is the one that’s about food and lots of it!

The Creamsicle

Helen Condon is a rug braider and master artisan who lives in Parishville, NY. Her website, Adirondack Rug Braiding (www.adirondackrugbraiding.com) has information on her rugs, baskets, and wreaths. Helen has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and teaches memoir writing. Here is a poem that Helen wrote about buying Creamsicles in the late 1940s.

Sullivan County's Diehl Homestead Farm:

The Southern Catskill region of New York State is well known for its dairy farms, often perched on steep, green slopes, overlooking lushly forested mountains, interleaved by the rushing creeks that feed the watershed of the upper Delaware River. A drive up Diehl Road in Western Sullivan County reveals one such landscape, defined by a single family, whose legacy dates back five generations on the same hillside, and overlooking the valley of the Callicoon Creek, where its patriarchal family established its original homestead more than a century and a half ago.


The original American Hall of Fame was not the baseball institution in Cooperstown, which opened in 1939, but the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, dedicated in 1901 on what was then a Bronx campus of New York University. In its early years this brainchild of NYU’s Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken was a sensation, engaging the public and the press in spirited debate about who merited inclusion.

NYFS News and Notes

News included New Staffing for VOICES, New York Folk Arts Roundtable, NYFS Coming to Your Community, and Community Cultural Documentation

Good Spirits

Studying the dangerous water spirits of European folklore makes me think about Niagara Falls, New York’s most famous waterfall. How much, if at all, do water spirits matter there? If we look at descriptions of the Falls in tourist brochures and online, we find legends of sudden death, with emphasis on Native American folklore. There are, of course, mentions of various people who foolishly went over the Falls in barrels and other doomed receptacles, but the most dramatic legends tell of Native American struggle and sacrifice.

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