HILLSDALE — Joe Lavoie, who describes himself as one of those rare creatures, “a Conservative Folky,” looks forward to this time all year; he loves the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, which brings people from all over the East Coast to listen to all blends of music with the base of that unique folk style.
Dodds Farm, located at 44 County Rd. 7D, opened for festivalgoers to set up camp Wednesday, and the folk tunes from 59 established and emerging artists from four different stages started Thursday and continued through Sunday.
“I come for the sense of community,” said Lavoie, who is from Massachusetts and has attended the 29-year-old festival since 2002. “Everyone gets along like family. Everyone is very respectful.”
Lavoie said the first time he went to Falcon Ridge, he went alone.
“I made a friend at a bar, and we were a lot alike, and he told me I should go to this festival,” Lavoie said. “I look forward to this all year. It is great to come here to just get away.”
Bill Thomas, of Connecticut, said the first time he heard about the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival was over the radio.
“That was in 1992, and I think the next year I went and I have been coming every year since,” Thomas said. “I like to dance at the main stage. I see people I know. It is nice to leave everything behind.”
The festival included artists from all over the country on four stages: the main stage, the workshop stage, the family stage and the dance stage under the dance tent.
“A lot of people come here to dance,” Lavoie said. “I have two left feet, but I like to watch people dance and have fun.”
Not everyone at the festival was a longtime devoted fan. Bill and Tricia Harrington, of Massachusetts, attended the festival Saturday on a whim.
“I was looking up beer festivals and for some reason this festival came up and I said, why not,” Bill Harrington said. “We’re enjoying it so far. The music has been great and the weather is perfect.”
Lavoie said he remembers the festival in 2008 when it was hit by high winds and hail that caused technical difficulties and knocked over tents.
“No one was hurt. Some of the artists got in a circle and played because the sound board was not working,” Lavoie recalled.
On Saturday, festivalgoers were graced with blue skies and sunshine, and a high of 70 degrees; in fact, some people were hiding in what shade they could find on the grassy hill sloping down towards the main stage.
Jean and John Roccanova, of Ancramdale, were out in the sun but took shelter along the outskirts of the main seating area under the trees.
“We are enjoying [the festival] very much. There is a great variety of music,” Jean Roccanova said.
John Roccanova said they won tickets to the festival in a contest on WKZE, a Red Hook-based radio station.
“We are not here to see any particular band, but we’ve enjoyed everyone so far,” Jean Roccanova said.
Bill Thomas said he would come to the festival to see Maura O’Connell, an Irish singer, and several other groups who were not on the roster this year.
Festivalgoers could listen to emerging artists at several tents where food vendors were located, including the Jam Tent sponsored by Devil’s Envy Hot Sauce.
Lavoie may have come to the festival on his lonesome his first year, but he said he now has friends he has made at the festival for years.
“I have accumulated all types of friends and we all camp near each other,” Lavoie said. “You give someone a beer and talk and enjoy the music.”