Though this is only the second annual Culture Camp, the atmosphere here is one of long-lasting energy. Culture Camp began in 2016 as a way to break the barrier between artist and audience. Through interactive workshops for all ages and skill levels, community members can develop relationships with the artists they’ve been watching perform at GrassRoots for years.
In just two days, I’ve witnessed people take time out of their regular schedule to contribute to a mission they truly believe in. Masters of their craft sit patiently with eager-to-learn beginners, not because they have to, but because they want to. These artists teach us that music does not belong to one person or stage—it extends into our community and transcends generations. Amidst the myriad of musical conversations, there is also constant discussion of how to handle the world in its current political state, how we can always do better as people.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all over both the country and the world. There’s the sound engineer from Austria whose yearning for change first brought him to Ithaca, but whose love for the music made him stay; there’s the young man from London whose newly found fiddle obsession set him on a quest to find the best American folk festivals. Many of the volunteers here are die-hard fans and performers from the sister Virginia Key and Shakori GrassRoots fests who tell me one festival a year just isn’t enough.
The constant flow of music weaves through the fairgrounds as crews assemble stages and bands prepare dinner. And the best part? Not a storm cloud in sight.