August 17, 2018
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Pain of taking a child to college will be eased by sweet sounds, tastes of the American Folk Festival

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN
Updated:

I promise this.

I will make my son’s bed on Saturday morning.

I may put away his clothes and I will survey his room and discuss a possible organizational plan for his belongings.

I will make polite conversation with his roommate while trying to get a bead on his personality.

I may check my watch on the sly.

By the time I hug him goodbye, l will have spent about 20 hours swallowing through the lump that developed in my throat as we pulled out of the driveway on Friday afternoon and away from the house he grew up in.

The lump will give way and I will cry. There actually may be some sobbing.

And with that done we will race to the car and head east along Route 2 as fast as is legally allowed with the goal to be at the Dance Pavilion at 5:30 p.m. Saturday to hear R&B and s oul singer Otis Clay.

This year we join the ranks of other American Folk Festival devotees with children who have found that this beloved and treasured weekend along Bangor’s waterfront is also the weekend that many students, particularly freshmen, head to college.

It is our turn and hence for the first time in 13 years we will miss part of the festival.

We are barely holding this against our son — hardly at all, actually.

With no pit stops along the way — go before you leave — we should be able to make it back in plenty of time to enjoy Saturday evening and all day on Sunday.

I don’t mean to sound callous.

There is a well-defined ache in our bellies as our son makes this awesome transition.

But I do believe it can be mitigated a bit by the “deep soul” music that pours out of 72-year-old Otis Clay, who last spring was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

If you’re going to be blue anyway, you might as well be blue with Otis.

When the sun goes down Saturday night, Cajun music and dancing will commence as Grammy-winning Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys take to the Railroad Stage.

Surely that will help ease the ache.

Our group’s annual “church session” will commence at noon on Sunday, where the Jones Family Singers will light up the Railroad Stage, and I’m looking forward to that above all else.

If you are not familiar with them, my advice to you is to get online and look them up. Listen.

You might find yourself inspired enough to come to our beautiful waterfront and listen to some world-class gospel music.

Most all of the folk musicians who will be playing at the festival this weekend can be found online. Check them out, check the festival schedule and come enjoy this late summer celebration.

For those of us who love it, it truly is a celebration — of music and community — and of course there is the food: cannolis, spanakopita, seafood chowder …

The food also may help ease our belly aches.

This is the 13th year of the festival. Our son was five when it arrived here in 2002. He doesn’t know the city without it.

So I will make up his twin-sized bed Saturday morning with his new extra-long sheets and we will take inventory one last time to ensure he is not missing a vital component of his life. We will leave him to begin his new journey, a little less connected to us.

We, meanwhile, will head east, to the waterfront, where our ache will be eased just a bit by the connections we have found at the American Folk Festival.

Renee Ordway can be reached at reneeordway@gmail.com

 


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