Clear Creek Festival is different. Attending festivals, particularly during September and October, is a tradition I have always cherished. As a child, I admiringly watched Mom sell artwork and delicate corn shuck flowers at hometown events. I have been a fan ever since and I never leave home without my wallet, because I always expect to find something I don’t want to live without. There is a handcraft to charm every visitor, from woodwork to broom making to the edible concoctions sold from food trucks and church bake sale tables (one could quickly empty the bank account on fresh pumpkin roll and no-bake cookies).
In September, I had the pleasure of experiencing something quite different at Clear Creek Festival in Big Hill, KY. It has not only “broken the mold”, but has offered an abundance of inspiration. It is the first event I have attended where a sense of community took precedence over the buying and selling of goods. Local businesses, farms, and organizations support the event by donating food and supplies. Attendees are encouraged to participate, even if they can’t afford a monetary donation, and are given opportunities to contribute by lending a hand with grounds prep, cooking, activities, or cleanup. You can plan a short stay or camp primitively on the grounds for the entire weekend to avoid missing a moment of its originality.
A community lunch, complete with local, clean, food and freshly-baked bread, was served that Saturday. We also had the honor of seeing some amazing musical performances showcasing everything from Bluegrass to Gospel. Among these artists was Joel Karabo Elliott, an American-Mosotho composer, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who can silence a noisy crowd with one note, be it from his soothing vocals or the sultry serenade of his trombone. Activities on-site range from a Youth Village offering age-appropriate fun to Yoga, gardening tutorials, and a drum circle. Like most festivals, there is something for everyone, but you don’t have to empty your bank account to find fulfillment. You depart for home with much more than another what-not (as endearing as they may be) to sit on a shelf. You leave with a new perspective and the feeling that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself. As stated on the Clear Creek site, you are “in harmony with nature and one another”, and you can expect to be forever changed. But, don’t simply take my word for it….read on for Richard’s artistic perspective on this ethereal gathering….
“I would just like to add that Clear Creek Festival is a spectacle of sorts for me, personally. As a musician, designer, and photographer, the musical performances hold the most importance to me at this event and last year was, by all means, exceptionally varied and well-paced. Musically, it focuses on the mingling of audience and performer, just as the theatre, film, poetry, and dancing aspects mingle with the community. I was fortunate enough to meet Joel Karabo Elliott, which felt like a long time coming, though I’d never known of him previously. A personal priority of mine is to buy local and international live music that inspires me. I was instantly intrigued and as I fell upon so many questions, I found myself to have only bought a CD and having left asking him absolutely nothing. I merely stood and studied him without saying anything, other than that I had found the performance amazing. With only one instrument, its complexity is easily overlooked and, as I look back, maybe I didn’t really ever need to say anything…. it was never about words. I would like to highlight Joel on the album, Grow Within And You Shall Not Go Without, as well as the songs “Nokeng (From The Limpopo To The Colorado)” and, my favorite, “Bana Ba Motho”, which sits on repeat often. There is just something about this event. When I first went 5 yrs ago, it had always stayed with me, which I can confidently say, isn’t typical. This is a learning experience and a balancing mechanism helpful for artists and musicians who want to connect to the community and, if used correctly, can put you on a higher playground. It’s always the little things that bring you back, but reaching their end is bittersweet. It’s so much more to take in and the outlook is so bright….it’s this that pushes me, and hopefully you, to next year.”
A special thanks from both of us to Bob and Carrie and all who have contributed to this beautiful event. We encourage you to make donations and/or contributions to Clear Creek by contacting them through their Facebook page. We look forward to seeing you in September!