NYSCA and NYF Collaborate on Upstate Regional Initiative

NYSCA and NYF Collaborate on Upstate Regional Initiative

New York Folklore says a fond farewell to Hannah Davis, who has been our Upstate Regional Representative for the past three years. Her work with us wraps up this month, with a maple presentation at the Rome Art Center. In February, Hannah presented two programs in conjunction with the Munson Williams Art Institute in Utica. The first, taking place at Utica’s First Friday, highlighted the coffee and tea traditions of Utica’s Dominican, Lebanese, and Bosnian communities and the second took place as part of the Munson Williams Proctor “Art Alive” program and highlighted four fine Oneida and Onondaga artists:

Chris Thomas, Beaver Clan – Singer

Adah Shenandoah, Wolf Clan – Dancer

Cameron Shenandoah, Wolf Clan – Dancer

Brittany Ninham, Turtle Clan – Dancer

The Upstate Regional Initiative is a program initiated by the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts. The project was developed to conduct field documentation and programming in counties underserved by the Folk Arts program of NYSCA, with the goal to serve as a catalyst for community based projects and to identify artists and cultural traditions within these regions. In the three years of Hannah’s documentation (2015-2018), she traversed eleven New York Counties, including Cattaraugus, Chatauqua, Tompkins, Cayuga, Seneca, Yates, Allegheny, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, Broome, and the cities of Binghamton, Rochester, Utica, and Rome. The fourth and final year of this documentation project takes place in 2019 with survey work being conducted in Madison, Cortland, Chenango, and Otsego Counties.

Roque Playing in Angelica, NY

Roque Playing in Angelica, NY

Roque, an American derivative of croquet, is believed to only be played in a few small towns nationwide. A manicured, well-lit clay court sits in the middle of Angelica in Allegany County, just across from the home of Jim Gallman. On summer evenings, he can watch games unfold from his porch.

The National Roque Association last published its rules in the 1950s, so the game’s complicated rules and their local adaptations are best-known by the oldest generation of players. Although he did not compete in Angelica’s annual tournament in 2016, when fieldworker Hannah Davis documented the game, Gallman had a front-row seat as an unofficial official.

Gallman proudly claims to be the Angelica’s winningest player. His brothers are in close competition, and their adult sons – who compete despite having moved away – aren’t far behind. Like other regular players, some even make their own mallets, which are shorter than croquet mallets and difficult to buy from commercial sources.

Gallman’s female family members are noticeably absent from the tournament. Roque has always been a gendered game here. Women may play casually with friends and family, Gallman explains, but they have never played as often as men. He suggests that less time spent on the court has resulted in a less competitive approach to the game. Anyone is welcome to watch, though. Visitors can see the tournament for themselves during the 50th Annual Angelica Heritage Days Festival on August 3 and 4. More information is available at www.visitangelica.com.