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Audience likes homeyness of music festival

August 31, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert had a question for the audience during his Saturday set at the Country Roads Folk Festival: Didn't they feel bad about sitting on someone's grass to see the show?

"I have never been here before. This is someone's yard, isn't it?" he asked. "Don't you feel a little guilty?"

But members of the audience, and others interviewed at the festival, said it was the at-home feel of the fourth annual festival that added to its appeal and made it better than some festivals.

Gilbert entertained the crowd with original songs and covers including Bob Dylan's "Like A Woman."

The festival, near Kearneysville, is on the 10-acre farm owned by festival founder and organizer Maureen Harrigan and her husband, Steve Workings.

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The couple enjoy letting people use their land to attend the concerts, with people drawn by "a really good live lineup," which this year included Richie Havens and Beth Nielsen Chapman, Workings said.

Although rain fell in the afternoon, many festival-goers said they welcomed it. Only about six people left due to the rain, Workings said. Others raised a tarp or umbrella above them.

"It was too hot before. We needed it," Jonie Lehmann of Columbia, Md., said after it rained.

This year, the addition of a pony ride and a swing set was a big hit with some of the younger attendees.

Lehmann's son, James, 4, said he liked the animals and the swing but his favorite part of the festival was hearing Gilbert sing.

At least 100 people were at the festival at mid-afternoon Saturday.

Tom Gray, a performer in the bluegrass band Randy Barrett & The Baritones, said he likes the festival because it is so "laid back," leading to a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

This is the fourth year that Sharon Horvath and Dan Strauch of Mount Airy, Md., who were waiting for a performance by The Hard Travelers, have come to the show. They like the event for its atmosphere and small size, and worry that someday larger crowds will change the atmosphere, Strauch said.

"It has a relaxing feel," Horvath said.

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