Winter 1997 -- Volume XXIII#4
Editor: Angel Roman


President's Message

During the past summer, various NEFFA Board task forces met to discuss some of our timelines, because we suspected that some of our activities might work better on different schedules. We concentrated on the newsletter publication schedule and the Festival programming schedule, and came up with modifications to both. We hope that the new
newsletter schedule will conform a bit more to the flow of NEFFA and other folk community events, and we feel that the new programming timeline will allow us to complete many different aspects of the Festival work without the last-minute scramble we have had in the past.

Much of our Festival planning and preparation has therefore been moved up a month or more. Potential performers were contacted earlier than in the past, and their applications are being considered by the Program Committee as I write this. The preliminary grid will be completed and mailed with the next newsletter (target mailing date: March 1), as will the volunteer recruitment form and the NEFFA ballot. We hope to have volunteer and housing assignments completed at the beginning of April instead of just before the Festival begins. We suspect that attendees might appreciate this as much as our committee members will!

This means that, once the holiday season is over, it will not be too soon to start thinking about the Festival.

As always, volunteers are the heart of it - performers and staff. We need both groups to make the Festival happen, and we are grateful that so many people are willing to give time and energy to this event. If you are already one of our loyal volunteers we look forward to welcoming you back to the 1998 crew. If you have not yet been a volunteer, think about trying it. We have opportunities of all sorts; the volunteer recruitment form you will receive in March lists them. Or you can contact me for more information. I look forward to talking with you.

-- Nancy Hanssen

Housing and Hospitality Information

The 1998 54th New England Folk Festival is coming in April, but it is not too soon to make arrangements for your lodging during the Festival. See our
lodging information page for lodging rates at a number of hotels and motels located in towns near the Natick High School, our Festival site. These rates are available at these hotels as of November 10, 1997 and are subject to availability. The Howard Johnson hotel is offering a NEFFA rate which is available by calling before April 1, 1998. Please make your arrangements soon.

If you would like assistance in obtaining hospitality with folks in the Boston-Natick area, or if you live near the Festival site and are willing offer overnight accommodations to out of town Festival guests, please see this page. You can also send a SASE to me, Elsa A. Elliott, at 28 Grove Street Medford, MA 02155 to receive other transportation and accommodation information. Elsa is also available via e-mail

Thanks and look forward to seeing you in April.

-- Elsa Elliott

Call for Nominees

NEFFA is a non-profit organization run by volunteers and in addition to producing an annual Folk Festival, NEFFA runs a weekly contra dance, the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend, and a series of family dances. NEFFA also supports various folk-related activities through its grants program. Our traditions and bylaws encourage member participation in a number of ways. While many of you are no doubt familiar with the role of volunteering at the Festival, you may also know that NEFFA's goals of preserving folk traditions are actually overseen by an Executive Board, composed of elected and appointed members. Under NEFFA's bylaws, elected Directors are expected to chair or be a member of a committee or to take on other responsibility. Interested NEFFA members can also become actively involved in administration by volunteering to take on a position of responsibility.

Each year, the Nominating Committee prepares a ballot for the elected members of the Board. We welcome all suggestions from the NEFFA membership, and our bylaws encourage direct nomination by members: "The name of any eligible person suggested by twenty-five or more members is included on the ballot, if he or she consents." Please send all such suggestions to Nominating Committee Chair Lisa Greenleaf either by email ( or by mail (188 Vaughn Hill Rd., Bolton, MA 01740). The deadline is January 15, 1998.

The present Elected Board members are listed below. Directors and Officers serve two-year terms and may be re-elected for one additional term (the Secretary and Treasurer are always eligible for re-election). Members of the Nominating Committee serve for a single three-year term. The April election will fill those positions for which the incumbents term ends in 1998. Except for those marked with an asterisk, incumbents are eligible for re-election. Positions to be filled are in boldface.

OfficeNameTerm Expires
PresidentNancy Hanssen1999*
Vice-PresidentBob Solosko1998*
SecretaryDaniel Pearl1999
TreasurerRalph Jones1998
Nominating CommitteeLisa Greenleaf1998*
Elsa Elliott1999*
Janet Yeracaris2000*
DirectorsShelagh Ellman-Pearl1998
vacant seat1998
Rayna Tulysewski1998
Linda Palmstrom1998
Claire Reid1999*
Angel Roman1999*
Peter Olszowka1999
Susan Worland1999

In recent years, Nominating Committees have generally recognized that NEFFA is a large organization with a geographically dispersed membership and that most of these members do not know each other or the candidates. Thus, there is little point to a popularity contest, with losers as well as winners. Most ballots, therefore, have presented uncontested slates. Unless a meaningful choice on some issue comes up, we anticipate continuing this tradition.

-- The Nominating Committee

Center for Performing and Visual Arts in Natick

Performers, dancers, teachers, crafts people, and arts-lovers in Boston's MetroWest suburbs: the proposed Center for Performing and Visual Arts in Natick continues to gather the momentum needed to turn a "wild" idea into a serious reality. Natick's Town Hall, soon to be vacated for a new building next door, provided an excellent opportunity for the creation of a new arts venue.

Renovation plans include a first floor gallery, a sidewalk cafe, and two performance spaces for theater, dance and live music. The plans provide space for artists' studios and classrooms on the second and third floors.

Current town plans call for the destruction of this historic structure to make room for a 37-space parking lot. However, in a show of support for the Arts Center proposal, a solid majority of Town Meeting members voted to delay the demolition, allowing time for a feasibility study on the project. The groundswell continued, as over 300 flocked to a dynamic concert by Jonathan Edwards and Lisa McCormick, performing an Inaugural Benefit for the Arts Center. The Natick Tab's enthusiastic lead editorial of October 14 proclaimed "Time for MetroWest Arts Center Has Come."

Yearning for a community arts center in MetroWest? Join a growing contingent of local citizens who volunteer time and expertise to the success of this project. Call (508) 655-5699 or visit for further information.

-- Deborah Foner

Activity Room News!

Welcome to the Activity Room at NEFFA! The Activity Room creates an environment to introduce folk art traditions and crafts for all ages. Parents were very pleased with the variety of activities that captivated their children's interest. All ages enjoyed the Toobers and Zots, the craft table and the demonstrations offered throughout the weekend last spring. The children enjoyed creating with feathers, beads, tiles, paper plates, yarns, pom poms, glitter and found objects from nature (shells, sticks, seeds). Other on-going activities included the dress-up corner, puppet play and the doll house. The tent and the platform offered quiet space for family time and crafts as needed. Teens taught each other braiding, finger weaving and model painting.

Special demonstrations included: Pysanky Egg Decorating by Margaret Hoenig-Kahn; Bobbin Lace Making by Leis Stolk and her lace group, Sparkle Crowns by Sue Carr & Linda Palmstrom; Paper Cutting by Gretchen Ekhardt; Model Magic Finger Puppets by Karen Larsen; Paper Quilt Squares by Karen Larsen; Origami by Jenny Mosely; Weaving by Linda Palmstrom; and Dreamcatchers & Storycatchers by Susan Tobin.

The craft table was open from 7pm to 9pm on Friday, 10:00am to 8:00pm on Saturday and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Sunday. Thank you to all the craft demonstrations and volunteers that contributed to the success of the activity room. We need your help for 1998 to help with crafts, maintain the play area and craft supplies, to demonstrate or teach a craft or folk art.

In addition, the Activity Room needs help to take materials to and from NEFFA (before and at the end of the Festival), help with set-up on Thursday & Friday, opening the crafts area in the morning and for clean-up/take down on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. We also need Friday and Saturday evening volunteers in order to extend the time the craft table is open. Please contact Linda Palmstrom for more information or Nancy Hanssen (or this form) to volunteer.

For safety, parents or other designated responsible adult must supervise children in the Activity Room at all times. We are looking forward to another fun and creative Activity Room for 1998. Please share your comments and suggestions.

-- Linda Palmstrom

Activity Room appreciation letter:

Dear Linda,

I have been attending NEFFA since 1978. This year I had the joy of bringing my 21 month old daughter and discovered a new, delightful part of NEFFA.

We knew that Dora loves music and dancing. She had a grand time dancing and jamming with the musicians on her miniature accordion. She loved the foods - especially the Philippine noodles and the Lithuanian stuffed cabbage. The new activity Dora discovered at NEFFA was crafts - the participatory kind!. We visited the Activity Room - I thought she might like the tent, the dress-up area, the doll house and the puppets. She loved those, but once she found the tables full of craft materials (markers, glue, sequins, feathers, play dough, paper plates, scissors...), that was where she wanted to spend the rest of the Festival.

Dora is using sign language more than she is speaking - before the afternoon was over, she had invented a sign for "crafts" - moving her hand in a circular motion, palm down, as if spreading something on a plate.

Dora was not ready to leave at 8 pm Saturday night when the craft table was closing - I had to carry out a crying child! Sunday morning I mentioned returning to NEFFA - Dora's face lit up and she signed "crafts". She spent Sunday wearing the sparkly garland hat that we made at the workshop in the Activity Room and decorating more paper plates with glitter, markers and stuff. She still signs "crafts" when we mention NEFFA.

Since NEFFA, we have set up a corner of the kitchen with a box full of craft supplies. Dora goes to the art space many times throughout the day to use play dough or to make pictures. We have a festive gallery of her creations on our walls. Many "thank yous" for the time, thought and effort you put into the activity room! Dora enjoyed it so much. It has warmed my heart to learn that my daughter loves crafts as much as I do. Your activity room is having a long-lasting and delightful effect on our home life.

Sincerely, Lynn Konnerth

Summary of the Minutes of the NEFFA Exec Board

7 September 1997

Treasurer's Report (Ralph Jones)

Ralph presented his annual survey of NEFFA finances.

It showed that the Festival expenses were higher than anticipated. Some of these expenses, Bob Solosko explained, should go down in future years. Others will recur. The Signs expense seemed higher than expected; Bob will check it.

Dan complimented Ralph on the quality of the report, and encouraged Ralph to share high-level information with members at the annual meeting. John thought this information might help to explain why "ticket prices are so high". The Treasurers report was approved by voice vote.

Committee Chairs (Nancy Hanssen)

Nancy circulated the proposed committee chair list.

Advisor: Larry Jennings; Family Dance: Jacob Bloom; Grants: Robert Johnson; Legal Advisor: Leslie Morrison; Membership: Bill Cochran; NEFFA News: Angel Roman; Publicity: Steve Boylan; Ralph Page Memorial Committee: Sylvia Miskoe (chair), Sam Alexander, George Fogg, Ellen Mandigo, Deanna Marvin, Don Parkhurst, Angela Taylor, Marianne Taylor, Mary Wakefield, Clay Wilcox , Peter Yarensky; Thursday Night Dance Committee: Dan Pearl; Activity Room: Linda Palmstrom; Arrangements, Inside Facilities: Bob Solosko; Outside Facilities Chair: Jean Krogh; Signs: Diane Biglow, Michael Resnick; Crafts: Mary Stafford; Operations: Dan Pearl; Folk Bazaar: Angela Taylor; Food Operations: Mary Wakefield, Don Parkhurst; Food Pre-Festival: Sandy Borden; Hospitality: Shelagh Ellman-Pearl; Housing: Elsa Elliott; Instrument Check: Michael Anthony; Safety: John Wojtowicz, Rayna Tulysewski; Sound: Michael Bergman, Peter Olszowka; Volunteer Sound: Sue Carboni; Performer Liaison: Stacie Barker; Tickets: Claire Reid, David Reid; Volunteers: Nancy Hanssen; Program: Janet Yeracaris; American Participatory Dance: Lisa Greenleaf; Dance Performances: Doris Possi; International Couple Dance: Susan Worland; International Line Dance: Jonathan Young and Mari Young; Folk Music and Song: Ann Schunior, Suzanne Mrozak; Morris Dance: Katy Burns; Performer Sales: Beth Parkes; Printed Materials: Lori Fassman; T-shirt: Lisa Greenleaf.

The list was approved by voice vote.

NEFFA Membership for Chairs

It was noticed that some members of the Program Committee are not NEFFA members. Do we want to require NEFFA membership for chairs, or would this discourage some from volunteering? After discussing a potential policy, Larry was assigned to redraft a policy for a subsequent meeting.

Janet thought it unusual that the Nominating Committee, as a matter of course, didn't guarantee that candidates were, in fact, NEFFA members. She'll take this up with the rest of the NomCom.

Membership Chair (Nancy Hanssen)

Bill Cochran reports that he is getting very busy, and wouldn't mind stepping down as Membership Chair. Let me know if you know anyone who'd like to take this on, as we may have an opening. Access to a MS-DOS computer would assist in the transfer of records.

Ticket Policy (Lisa Greenleaf)

A report was distributed and the recommendations were discussed and modified. Eventually the following set of policies were developed:

  1. All Festival chairs shall track and report the number of tickets he or she distributes.

  2. The Ticket Chair shall track and report on all tickets he hands out.

  3. "Tickets are not transferable" shall be printed at the bottom of the tickets price poster in the lobby.

  4. The chairs, particularly of Crafts, Sound and Activities, should recognize that a regular volunteer earns an all-session ticket for four hours of work, and that any tickets the chair distributes should require a comparable degree of effort.

  5. Crafts, Folk Bazaar and Food chairs shall establish guidelines to be consistently enforced that will include the maximum number of tickets per booth required to staff the booth at any one time, as well as criteria for the allocation of this number. The ticket is for the purposes of manning the booth.

  6. The "NEFFA" ticket shall be redesigned to include space for both the sponsoring committee and the bearer's name.

  7. A new category of all-session "complimentary" tickets shall be created. These tickets are distinguished from all other categories in that they are not paid for nor do they require a specific degree of effort.

  8. "Squeaky Wheel" tickets are regular admission tickets for the purpose of appeasing "squeaky wheels".

The motion passed by voice vote.

There was additional discussion on the issue of souvenir Festival Committee badges. Some suggested replacing them with an honorary "Former Committee" badges. Shelagh suggested redesigning the Festival Committee badge. Ralph suggested that it have a clearly-visible year designation. Lisa suggested a compromise to cover up "Festival Committee" on the badges. Shelagh suggested just talking to the owners of old Festival Committee badges to explain the problem to them.

The sentiment is that the Festival Committee badge is to signify that you are up on current policy. Larry will redraft the policy on Festival Committee badge usage.

Friday Festival Security (Nancy Hanssen)

This task force felt that the chaos during Friday setup was organized chaos. There were recommendations to better handle early arrivers. They recommended that:

  1. That there be a welcoming committee stationed at the Hospitality/Arrangements table starting at 3:00pm.

  2. That signs be posted directing early arrivers to the Hospitality/Arrangements table.

  3. That, as far as possible, unloading to be done through the doors around the courtyard, leaving other doors locked.

  4. That all early arrivals be encouraged to wear their Festival badges, so that the welcoming committee can easily distinguish between official and non-official early arrivals.

  5. That the welcoming committee have available diagrams of all booth locations and constantly updated locations and need of Festival Chairs who are setting up on Friday, so as to be able to direct people efficiently.

The above procedures were not voted on, but there was support for them.

Early admission in case of rain? The following people will look into this: Bob, John, Jean and Larry (as advisor).

Program Committee Timeline (Janet Yeracaris)

A timeline shifted earlier than previous timelines, was proposed. Notable items: The Preliminary Grid, now distributed with the ballot, will go with the February newsletter (along with the Volunteer Form, and the Housing Form); the Philosophy presentation at the January meeting will be recast as a "Festival Program Preview", to more accurately represent its function.

There was support for the new timeline, and it will be followed this year.

Timeline Issues Task Force (Nancy Hanssen)

They recommended that a standing editorial committee be created to help provide material to the News editor. There was support for the concept but few volunteers.

The publication deadlines were also deemed in need of revision. They were modified (as listed on the back page of the News). If you don't get the material to the editor by the deadline, there is no guarantee the material will be accepted for publication.

Thursday Night Dance Committee (Dan Pearl)

A season summary was presented. The series is doing well, and has established a reputation for quality. Dan thanked Larry for his vision in establishing a quality program with caring administration. Larry thanked Dan for his diligence and contribution to the committee.

Grants (Robert Johnson)

A summary of recent grant applications was distributed. The annual motion to fund the Grants Committee was passed.


Steve Boylan wants hints of where we should be publicizing the Festival, so that he can determine contacts and publicity schedule early on.

5 October 1997

Lori Fassman Resignation

Board Member Lori Fassman has resigned her elected position. She will continue as Printed Materials chair.

Membership Requirement for Board and Committee Members (Larry Jennings)

Larry distributed a proposed membership policy. Although there was support for the concepts, a significant number of people thought that the policy as written was more verbose than necessary. A specific suggestion was made that a fee-based proposal would be better received than a membership-status-based proposal. Larry will redraft the proposal for a future meeting.

Festival Ticket Prices

The philosophy of ticket price changes was discussed. In the past, we have not made increases until the Festival lost money. Ignoring T-shirt income, in 1997, the Festival made $600. In 1996, we lost $4000. In 1995, we made $2500. We did raise prices last year, but because of unanticipated expenses, we were not as much in the black as we would have expected. The Festival is still a bargain, compared to other festivals.

Larry: Suggest raising prices $1. Michael: If attendance was down, we should advertise more to increase income. Nancy: Minutes say that we had about 150 more people in 1997 than in 1996. Michael: An increase of 100 people would have a significant effect to the bottom line.

David: Should we consider having a family maximum? [General discussion ensued. People thought that this might be difficult to administer, and the prices were cheap enough for kids as it is.]

Larry: It would be good to make $4000-$5000 in 1998. John: Regular small increases are better for goodwill than more occasional large increases.

A straw vote favored a small increase in ticket prices.

David Reid made a proposal that raised ticket prices a dollar or two per session. This proposal will be considered at the next meeting..

Arrangements Committee (Bob Solosko)

Bob presented a timeline and budget. Costs will be on a par with last year.

Program Committee (Janet Yeracaris)

A revised timeline and budget were presented.

Where/when should the preliminary grid be released? If it goes out with the newsletter, then people would be getting it in March, even though it was produced in early February. Do the members have to get it first? When does it go on the website? I'm thinking that we publish/distribute it when it is ready; members get it as a convenience and not necessarily as breaking news. Nancy: How early can we do the ballot mailing? We want the grid and volunteer form to go out together. Elsa: Then can we separate the ballot from the other pieces? Jean: It would be good to have a parking flyer go out with the first Festival publicity. Janet: So we should distribute the grid in February when available at dances, on the website,...Michael: At the Dance Flurry. Nancy: Make more copies, because they will be distributed longer. Janet: I am inclined not to publish any changes anywhere except the website. Michael: We can target distribution of the grid; not everyone needs it. The main flyer can list selected performers as an enticement. Dan: Favor printing modest amounts of grids, and allow updates, say, every two weeks. Janet: February to April is a long time, and the morris and performance schedules get determined during that time. I need to think about this issue. Larry: We should limit ourselves to one News mailing and one First Class mailing. On February 8, put whatever you have out with the newsletter. Between 3 and 5 weeks later, in mid-March, do the First Class (ballot) mailing with an updated grid, then release an update just before the Festival. Dan: Consider mailing the March 1 newsletter first class; for members, we would also include membership/ballot material. This newsletter would be smaller if we omit the Calendar (or just have updates). A first class mailing will also help us clean up the entire mailing list.

March 25 is the program book deadline.

Program book will be more expensive to produce next year. Our printer's records about prior years are confusing. Dan: Can we change the quality of the program booklet? Would newsprint with a web press process reduce costs? Janet: I don't object to lower quality; we should ask people what they use the booklet for. Claire: Consider specifying post-consumer recycled stock. Michael: A nicely-made booklet says "take me"; a less attractive booklet will be taken only by people who want/need the information. Jonathan: Janet says they cost $1 apiece; at this point we could sell them. Nancy: How low is "low quality"? Michael: Layout is more important to creating an impression. Nancy: Paper quality. Claire: Bleed through should be avoided.

Sound Committee Timeline (Michael Bergman)

Budget is still in process. Anticipated costs are slightly higher for 1998.

We can save $2000 by going to volunteer sound in the Auditorium. It is relatively simple to do sound there. We have a proposal from Persis Thorndike and her husband. They run a recording studio, but are willing to take on coordinating sound in the Auditorium. We would ensure the equipment in the hall is what is needed to do the job. We would provide volunteers and they would cover the time we couldn't provide volunteers for. As with anything new, there is some risk. Dan: I think Auditorium is hard because of logistical issues. Michael: It's easier because the hall was designed for sound reinforcement. Peter: On the stage, with lots of smaller speakers, it's easier to hear dance leaders. Michael: Sometimes, our professional contractors just sent their volunteers for coffee; we think that if we went to all volunteers, it would make things smoother during event changes. [There was general support for the proposal.]

Festival Badge/Ticket Policy (Larry Jennings)

See Larry's proposal of 5 October 1997. There was extensive discussion, and there were questions and points were addressed by the proposal.

Ralph favors prominent display of the year on Festival Committee badges. Larry said that the very few people who wear old FC badges can be handled by the President or designee.

It was the consensus that Committee chairs should have authority to issue "NEFFA" badges (the issuance of same to be reported to the Board).

Ralph favors the deletion of "blue-green" at the top of page 3. Larry thinks when we have a policy, Ralph's issue goes away.

Larry will rework the proposal for a subsequent meeting.

Early Public Entry (Bob Solosko)

The policy was presented and discussed. The consensus is to implement this policy clarifying procedures for early entry in case of inclement weather.

Future Meeting Dates

Please call 508-229-2854 for the schedule of future meetings.

Time to Go...

I have greatly enjoyed being editor of this newsletter, but I find that I must now step down. Linda Palmstrom will be serving as interim editor. As the job is really too big for one person, we will, in fact, be creating an editorial committee which would serve to support the editor in whatever way she (or he) feels would be most helpful. If anyone is interested, please let us know. Newsletter submissions should be sent to Linda, at 17 Lakeview Rd., Winchester, MA 01890, or to my e-mail, as Linda is not yet sure what e-mail address she will be using. It is my hope that the News will continue to be not just a source of information, but a forum for ideas and opinions, and I'm sure the new editor will have her own thoughts on the subject. I look forward to reading future issues.
-- Angel Roman

New England Folk Festival Association