Even for a bloke who had two Irish grandfathers, I am not sure I should be admittin' that we started Sunday at the pub - before noon, no less.  It was not much before noon though, and as we were only drinkin' water, it was not of much concern to us that they could not serve alcohol that early.  We had been passin' by the Dublin Square Irish Pub on our way to the City Hall stage for Banjo Traditions when we saw their sign out front which said that Sunday's special was all sandwiches at half price.  The food was excellent, the price was right, and it is an interestin' place.

Megan, our server, a fine friendly lass who by the way is a student at MSU on a path to becoming a neurosurgeon, managed to find an old menu to rip the front page out of (with the manager's permission, of course).  I had asked if they would photocopy it so I could have the info contained there about the pub "which was born in 2006 with the intention of bringing a small piece of Ireland to an area that already abounds with culture."  Seemed to me an appropriate place to be havin' a Folk Festival meal at. 

"The entire interior of the Pub, including the massive hand carved mahogany bar, was built in Dublin, then shipped and re-assembled in East Lansing by the same skilled craftsmen that built her.  Many of the artifacts inside are actual contents from the very first stout brewery in Ireland, and the Guinness barrels are bound by metal from the actual railroad tracks leading into the brewery.  The timber in the cottage and brewery areas was reclaimed from an aging barn owned by a farmer who supplied barley to the famed Guinness brewery in the 1800's." 

A grand piece of Ireland if ever I heard of it.  Assuming, of course, that it's not a bunch o' blarney they'd be tellin' us. 


For those who might not know it, the 72 year old building (in 2006), which is now the Dublin Square Irish Pub, was once the East Lansing Post Office.  Hence the other dynamic represented in the decor.

After lunch, we only caught a little bit of Banjo Traditions, but remained at the City Hall stage to hear Wabanaisee (Anishnabek Singing and Hand Drumming).  Their name translates "Snowbirds," and was given to them by a "traditional man who was guided by the spirits" to bless them with it.  "The snowbird is known as a tough little bird that stays in a group and braves the long cold northern winters.  Rarely is a lone snowbird ever seen, they are usually singing and playfully flying about."  According to their brochure, it "defines who we are and how we have bonded with one another". . . quite evident in their performance. 

Granddaughters were welcome onstage too.

Beautiful spirits

Beautiful sound



Elana James was up next at the City Hall stage.  We had already seen her on Friday.  But, I stayed for a while to take some pictures (did not have a camera on Friday), and then headed over toward the M.A.C. stage to catch a little of the Dirk Powell Band (remember the square dance? - see Balfa Toujours later too) taking pictures along the way.  Donna found herself a shade tree to camp out under during my trek. 




Donna wanted to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops one more time.  They were scheduled at the Dance tent at 3:00 p.m.  So, that is where we went.  Once again the basic venue was a bit of square dancing. But, after a time, Rhiannon Giddens did take the floor (twice) to teach a couple of additional dances. 


It was the same MC doing the calling as on Saturday


as you can see

not everybody was getting into it with full abandon (a future music critic perhaps?). 



We decided to stay at the Dance tent for Balfa Toujour (Cajun) since we did not recall seeing them yet. As it turns out, Christine Balfa is married to Dirk Powell, so it is the same people in different roles with a little variation in music style.  While waiting for the band to set up, kids were having a ball on the dance floor between the sets.  Once the band started playing, adults and children alike took foot to their music. 



And then it was done . . .

Well . . . not quite actually . . . Dominique Dupuis was still wrapping things up at the M.A.C. stage.  It seems historically the festival begins and ends there.  But, Donna and I decided we were ready to head home from here at the Dance stage and tent. So we did not truly do a start to finish, as we have in many of the past festival years.  Still, like always, it had been a most enjoyable weekend. 


Beyond the featured artists and events, a number of street musicians and acts grace the curbside during the festival (usually with a guitar case opened for donations).  They add a special flavor to the happenings and can be quite entertaining.  Plus, there are causes and commercial tents or booths as well . . . all a piece of the puzzle, yet low keyed and respectful of the reason most visitors are here.  Beyond the bucket brigade, there is a whole host of volunteers and technicians whose efforts allow all this to happen.  And then there are the people who come.  At times they can be as fascinating as the ones on stage to watch. Here are some selected shots from all of the above mentioned categories taken throughout the weekend.


Finally, I will close these three pages with a face of the future . . . the reason it is so important to tell our stories and pass down our traditions.  Plus, I am throwing in an "at the festival" self-portrait photo, but you might need to look close to see me (hint: I sometimes will shoot myself into a picture as a shadow or reflection). If you have never been to the Great Lakes Folk Festival, I hope you will come . . . next time. 



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