GREENFIELD — Despite its new location at the Franklin County Fairgrounds and an early deluge Friday afternoon, the Green River Festival brought the same kind of family-friendly fun it’s known for this weekend.

The 34th annual Green River Festival attracted thousands of people to its three stages to once again see live music after last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic. The festival hosted distinguished artists like Americana artist Shakey Graves, singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” bandleader Jon Batiste, along with a slew of other bands and independent musicians.

The Franklin County Fairgrounds were packed with RVs, vendor tents and folks enjoying the music of artists who suffered through a year without live performances.

After folk band Ghost of Paul Revere finished its performance Saturday afternoon, Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner addressed the crowd and thanked the organizers for navigating the pandemic and bringing a fun-filled event to the city after a tough year.

“I don’t know about y’all out there, but I needed this,” Wedegartner said from the stage. “I needed this, this year, so thank you for making it happen!”

Saturday Tunes from our northern neighbors

Artists from across the country and the world took to the festival’s stages throughout the weekend, bringing their own taste of folk and Americana music.

Bella White, a 20-year-old bluegrass artist from Calgary, Canada, kicked off the main stage’s performances Saturday afternoon. White, who released her debut album “Just Like Leaving” in September 2020, told the Greenfield Recorder it was a great experience to play for the festival.

“It was so good,” White said. “Everyone was just chilling and engaged.”

White said it was her first time playing at Green River Festival, but she said the New England atmosphere made her “feel close to home.”

She added her album debuted during the pandemic and she has only just recently been engaging with her fans in person, but she said performing for fans and meeting with them is a feeling that cannot be matched.

“Seeing them in the flesh, it’s really encouraging and inspiring,” White said. “It’s good to be on stage, bring the band out and do the whole thing again.”

Art activities for all — and for a good cause

The Shelburne Falls-based community art organization, The Art Garden, hosted activities for young children and teens under the Yankee Candle Family Village Tent.

Art Garden President Jane Wegscheider and Director Laura Iveson said the family activity center is usually bigger, but they prioritized the safety of children. Art Garden volunteers helped give out art supplies to children and anyone partaking in activities under the tent was required to wear a mask.

“The goal is to still have a lot of fun,” Wegscheider said, “but to be safe.”

Children were able to create paper lanterns, draw pictures and decorate lunch bags, which would be given to socially isolated seniors who need food. Wegscheider and Iveson said this project came from the Art Garden’s community project based on hunger in Franklin County.

“We’re focused on food security issues,” Iveson said. “It’s a good opportunity for someone to do something fun and help someone else.”

While children were creating art at the picnic tables under the tent, short plays such as “The Tortoise and the Hare” were being performed for their entertainment, too.

Amherst residents Allison and Jon Henry, who brought their three daughters, said they have been going to the festival for years and love the family-friendly atmosphere.

“We love that it’s family appropriate,” Allison Henry said as one of her daughters was coloring. “You get to spend some time with your family and listen to music.”

Henry said the festival organizers did a great job in making it “safe” for children of all ages.

“For the little ones, this is a nice, structured place,” Henry said. “It’s a nice way to end the summer.”

Crafts from near and far

Craft and vendor tents wrapped the left side of the field up to the main stage with products ranging from flower crowns to clothing. After many of their tents got thrashed by the storm early Friday evening, most vendors were enjoying a much better experience Saturday afternoon.

When attendees walked toward the main stage, the first tent they would probably notice was Wood and Barrel Co., which was manned by owner Tony Derricotte.

The Shelburne Falls-based wood crafting company creates hand-crafted furniture and cutting boards from reclaimed wine barrels. Derricotte, who started the company eight years ago, said having a tent at the festival was “last-minute decision,” but it has been a successful one.

“We thought we’d test the waters,” Derricotte said at his tent. “It’s been a good couple of days.”

He added customers were purchasing a “pretty good mix” of patio sets, spinning barstools and other, smaller items.

Derricotte said the event is a “great opportunity for networking” and he is glad the organizers make it a priority to host craft vendors all weekend.

“I think it’s really great they have really made an effort to bring crafters together,” Derricotte said. “It brings in a large swath of people from all over New England.”

While many crafters were based in the Pioneer Valley, Susan Forker travels each year to the festival from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to sell her hand-crafted jewelry. She said she is originally from eastern Massachusetts and her friend told her she should bring her crafts to the Green River Festival.

“This is my fourth time. I love western Mass,” Forker said. “I love the size of this festival, it’s small.”

Forker said smaller bluegrass and folk music festivals are the types of events that draw people to her jewelry, which features vintage prints she finds in old books or at flea markets.

“Music and art is a good partnership,” Forker said. “The people that come to these festivals appreciate hand crafted.”

Sore from standing and listening to music? Get a massage

One of the most unique experiences to be found among the vendor tents was the massage pop-up, where attendees could pay for a time block.

Licensed Massage Therapist Gretchen Wetherby said she has been hosting a massage tent at the festival for years and has expanded as its popularity has grown. She added she has had massage chairs in the past, but this year they decided to go with three tables and three masseuses.

“I was a couple years out of school and thought, ‘Maybe that’d be fun,’” Wetherby said in between clients. “I literally bought a pop-up and said, ‘What the heck?’ It’s really fun.

Wetherby, who has offices in Millers Falls and Shelburne Falls, said her tent has become quite popular over the years. This year, it was quite close to the main stage, which offers a deep, immersive experience for her clients.

“I’m excited to be close to the stage,” Wetherby said. “People will get off the table and be like ‘I don’t even know what happened.’”

She said people find the idea “neat” and she wants to continue working at the Green River Festival into the future.

“I hope to keep doing it,” Wetherby said. “It’s really, really fun to be here.”

Sunday Music City’s signature sounds bring joy to the fairgrounds

Opening the final day of the Green River Festival on Greenfield Savings Bank Stage, Nashville, Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and fiddler Rachel Baiman closed out a joy-starved chapter of humanity.

Prior to her high-energy Americana set that got shoes packing down the dirt, though, Baiman took some time to be a fan. She said that on Saturday, she was “dancing in the field” to headliner Jon Batiste as she enjoyed the day’s ambiance.

“There’s so much thought and care that goes into making this kind of magic,” Baiman said of the festival. “I feel like they’re really bringing the joy of life back after it’s been gone for so long.”

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Baiman said that she has been performing since she was 18 and has played with her band for five years. She is signed to Northampton-based label Signature Sounds, with whom she released her folk album “Cycles” in June 2021. Now on tour, Baiman said that being a musician in her capacity amplifies the joy of live music events.

“As touring artists, we live for these moments,” Baiman said. “This is what we work towards for our whole lives.”

CBD company owner able to relax after tent collapse

For “Appalachian CBD” owner Dan Hickok, one of the Pioneer Valley’s blossoming industries has been a gateway to “becoming friends with strangers” at the Green River Festival.

“The people have been awesome,” Hickok said.

Hickok said that he started the company because of how cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, helped him with his own back issues. An advocate for holistic medicine, Hickok said that CBD can help if “people have issues sleeping or joint issues.” A first-time Green River festival attendee, he expressed his gratitude for being invited to pitch his vendor tent.

“It’s been great brand recognition for me,” Hickok said.

It’s after his tent blew over and his wares were strewn upon the grass by Friday’s storm, though, that Hickok began to get a better feel for those in attendance beyond the realm of business. He described several helping hands rushing to recover items from his stand that had been knocked over. He credits the festival for helping to gather people with big hearts.

“I think it helps bring people together,” Hickok said. “This festival really has this love and vibe of traditional music festivals.”

Hickok alluded to Woodstock in particular as one such “traditional” festival. He acknowledged the pertinence of CBD and marijuana products to the cultures of such events and to the burgeoning culture in the area as more marijuana-related businesses pursue opportunities in the Pioneer Valley.

“I think the increase in cannabis products is good,” Hickok said. “People are becoming more comfortable with it.”

LaunchSpace workshop builds connections, adds dimension of creativity to festival

The tent for LaunchSpace, a non-profit community workshop located in the Orange Innovation Center, housed custom wares as diverse as the Green River Festival’s lineup.

As you step into the tent, motion from the robotic arm of a 3-D printer catches your eye. After the royal hues of printed decor draws your gaze, your eyes wander around the tent’s perimeter, taking in a variety of crafts in different mediums. Some highlights include pottery, woodwork, and jewelry crafted out of coins.

“Our intent, really, is to get the name out there for LaunchSpace and show what we do, as well as show off some of the things we make,” instructor Tom Valle said.

He explained that LaunchSpace is an organization that not only provides a workspace for creators to create, but a program for those interested in learning a craft to receive an education.

“One of the coolest things we’re trying to do is educate people on what a makerspace is,” Anthony Novak, steward of robotics, said.

Novak said that LaunchSpace’s presence in an area like Franklin County is especially crucial due to the scarcity of similar makerspaces in more rural areas. He said that the festival had been a great opportunity to see a “kind of glow” in those passing by LaunchSpace’s tent. He added that he hopes “to grow that artistic and maker sense in other people.”

The festival’s campground: a community within a community

Sam Perry, one of the camp directors at the Green River Festival, said that he’s observed nothing but “a lot of love and a lot of respect” from those camping at Franklin County Fairgrounds during the Green River Festival.

Midday on Sunday, the camping area was sparse except for its village of tents. With the stages’ music drawing people from all over the country, the campground being unpopulated during the day certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. What was noticeable, though, was how well-kept and clean the grounds were.

“The guests of the festival are super respectful,” Perry said. “It really is a community. People help each other out.”

Perry said that campers had done a great job of not only following rules, but actively being good Samaritans through deeds like picking up after their trash. He described the campers as “great people” who had cultivated a positive atmosphere over the weekend. He said that this is an extension of a long-nurtured festival tradition.

“The culture that has been crafted over 35 years has been super special,” Perry said.

He added that in addition to respecting the grounds, campers contributed to the atmosphere with music of their own. He said that many brought their own instruments to play with one another in the festival’s downtime.

“It’s all good vibes, you know?” Perry said.

Perhaps the most special treat that campers were able to enjoy had been the “intimate pop-up sets” from festival performers that lingered around the campgrounds. He said that Saturday morning, musicians from string band “Twisted Pine” came around to perform an “impromptu set.”

“We live in a pretty special place,” Perry said. “I’m not sure this could happen elsewhere.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081. Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or



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