Updated 12/97

North American
Jew's Harp Festival
(NAJHF) 1997

Janet Gohring - NAJHF '97

1997 Festival Report by Janet Gohring, Executive Director

I ARRIVED at the Eagle Valley Grange Park with my husband, Bill (festival founder), on Tuesday afternoon. We spent the afternoon setting up a "community camp" with other festival workers, Ron and Kathi Vinson, Wayland Harman, Mark and Ronnie Poss, Dan and John Gossi. The community camp was something new this year and it was great.

We spread a big parachute over the central kitchen and each of us pitched our tents around the parachute. By early evening, the camp was set up and we all relaxed and enjoyed being together again ... taking one last breath of calm before the marathon of preparing the grounds for the festival.

Wednesday morning found all of us up early and ready to go. Everyone worked hard all day Wednesday and Thursday setting up the sound system and booths. By Thursday evening, all was ready to go.

Friday and Saturday were filled with a wonderful array of musicians ... many attending the festival for the first time ... as well as lots of "repeat performers".A special thrill for all of us was having Dr. and Mrs. Fred Crane from Iowa and Mrs.Tom (Velma) Bilyeu from Oregon attending. Dr. Crane is the founder of the international Trump (Jew's Harp) Congress and the person most of us consider to be the "expert" on Jew's Harps in America. Mrs. Bilyeu has been an avid supporter of the festival from the early days when her husband, Tom (maker of the "Snoopy Jew's Harp") encouraged us as well as attended the first three festivals. It was definitely a big highlight of the weekend, for me, to have them there.

And it was great to have some of our friends back again ... Larry Hanks, Jules DiGuilio, Ed Clark, Gordon Frazier, Ingrid Berkhout, Homer Welte, Dick Kaiser, Eric Leffingwell, Jim and Denise Nelson, Jack Roberts and many others too numerous to mention. The festival is getting old enough now that each year its like having a big family reunion.

And I do feel like we all have become one big happy family.

The 1997 festival was an all time enjoyable event for me. For the first time in the festival's history, I actually was able to enjoy the festival instead of being consumed with the never ending work of coordinating. The difference this year was all of the superb help I had. I would like to give special thanks to several people who really made a difference for me, personally:

Jan Karon-Howe - Jan is a relatively new member of the festival steering committee, but she jumped right in and became, literally, my right hand. I think the whole experience was rather overwhelming to her but she took everything in stride and coordinated so many different areas: The volunteers, the recycling center, creating and putting up the posters and bulletin board, and doing a million other things that I didn't have time to do.

Kathi Vinson - If Jan Karon was my right hand, Kathi was certainly my left hand. Two weeks before the festival, we found out the person who usually runs the information booth would not be able to attend. So at the last minute, Kathi coordinated the information booth -- which is a tremendously big job! The Info booth takes care of all the performer registrations, festival sales and is the center for all questions and problems. Kathi was an invaluable help to the festival.

Ronnie Poss - Ronnie was such a big help, she kept appearing wherever something needed to be done. She worked very closely with Jan Karon-Howe throughout the festival. Ronnie also coordinated the "Photo Archive" project the Guild has undertaken. She spent many hours during the festival photographing everyone's Jew's Harp collections. Her warm smile and gentle manner were very comforting to me. She and I spent some fun times at the "community camp" cooking dinner together.

Dan Gossi and Mark Poss - Our "Sound Guys" did a superb job of running the sound system for the festival ... which is a long and (sometimes) thankless job. The "sound" at this year's festival was the best ever and the credit goes to them.

Now that I've gotten started, I'm realizing there are many others who made the festival such a success ... Wayland Harman, our MC. He, too, was in many different places, doing many different things... Gordon Frazier, festival founder, reading room coordinator, button maker ... Ingrid Berkhout, festival photographer and super friend ... Ron Vinson, our "fix it" man, who spent many hours repairing benches and tables and moving this here and that there ... John and Donna Weir and all the folks at the Eagle Valley Grange who prepare the park for us and serve us great food...

And last, but by no means least, my husband, Bill ... his love and care and support really made the festival a wonderful time for me. This was the first year that we've both had time to enjoy some of the festival events together. It was really great to be able to share some of these things together instead of have separate experiences.

I feel the festival really made some progress this year and very much look forward to next year. We are finally getting a grip on the organizational aspects and each year it gets easier and easier. I am especially happy with the amount of involvement and enthusiasm our volunteers have. All of us working together to make this wonderful event happen ... well, for me, its just the best part of the festival!

And I look forward to many more!!


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Last Updated: 10/97
by M. Poss (CSCS)