SILK HOPE—The air was warm and the sun was high on Thursday as the 17th Spring Shakori Grassroots Festival opened its gates to visitors from across the state and the region. The quiet former …
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SILK HOPE—The air was warm and the sun was high on Thursday as the 17th Spring Shakori Grassroots Festival opened its gates to visitors from across the state and the region. The quiet former farmstead, just off an unassuming and quiet country road in Silk Hope, hosts the festival each spring and fall.
The first attendees began to arrive, greeted by a “Happy Shakori” from the Dog House, the nickname for the shelter for the parking crew. People filed in, grabbed their parking permit and their wristbands, and packed camping equipment into backpacks and wagons and headed into the 72-acre property, searching for the perfect camping spot.
Opening day always feels like a family reunion, where annual Shakori-goers greet friends they only see each year at the event. The crowd is a blend of out-of-towners and locals, some of whom have attended the event for more than a decade. For many of the Chatham residents who attend, this is the only festival they go to each year. Some come for the day, seeking shady spots to set up chairs and hammocks to listen to music and leave in the evening. Others use the festival as an opportunity to camp with their friends and children, a tradition that provides an opportunity to spend quality time with their families.
With four separate stages and an old front porch, the event is rich with music from nearly every genre. The Meadow Stage is the largest, hosting larger bands and headliners. Just a short walk away is the Grove Stage, which is smaller, but a favorite for some of the bands who play the event regularly, like Dr. Bacon and the Tan and Sober Gentleman. The Grove Stage lets the performers perform close to their audience, but provides enough space that festival go-ers can dance with freedom.
A short walk up the hill leads to two different tent stages. The Dance Tent is reminiscent of a circus tent, with vibrant yellow and purple stripes. The tent hosts a dance floor which provides attendees the chance to dance more formally. Across the gravel road sits the cabaret tent, complete with a dance floor, which often hosts more intimate performances and in the late evening, a vinyl lounge where DJs spin tunes for the night owls. The front porch, located on the old farm house, hosts jam sessions and lessons, providing an opportunity for burgeoning musicians to participate in the festival.
As it always seems to happen at Shakori, the weekend’s festival endured rain showers on Saturday. The festival has the well-earned reputation of rain — it even survived Hurricane Matthew in 2016 — and festival goers come prepared for the inevitable precipitation. Some may take shelter in their campsites, or hunker down in one of the music tents to wait out the rain while dancing, and others frolic in the rain at the outdoor stages refusing the let the rain stop them.
By Sunday, skies began to clear for the festival’s final day. Sunday is a popular day with single ticket locals, who check out the vendors, bring their kids to play in the children’s area, and listen to the last day of music. Sunday’s draw is more than just it being a day of convenience. The festival closes out each year with an all-star jam featuring Donna the Buffalo, the founders of the event, and their musician friends. This year Preston Frank joined them on stage as well as Kat Wright, a soulful singer who performed several times throughout the weekend. There’s no telling how long the jam will last and, for many, it’s the highlight of the weekend. It signals the end of a long, music-filled weekend and the time to bid good-bye to the Shakori family ... until this fall. Shakori’s 17th Annual Fall Grassroots Festival will occur October 3-6.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com