I sort of feel like the luckiest girl in the world this week. Well,
I’ve felt like that since I arrived to Kaustinen in April for my
internship at the Folk Music Institute—but this week I REALLY feel
that way. The Kaustinen Folk Music Festival is in full swing this week
and I am living right in the middle of all the excitement. This year I
am having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Maunon
Makasiini, right next door to one of the main stages of the festival.
Every morning this week I have woken up, lazily around mid-morning, and
been serenaded by some new, delightful surprise beginning at 11am or
noon. I barely have to get out of bed to go to the festival!
But there are other tempting acts to seek out and I haven’t been
staying in bed all day. I’ve caught quite a few! I’ve heard bands
from Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Haiti, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland and the
U.S. There is definitely an international presence! And though it is
true that is impossible to see everything (there are easily more than
100 acts a day), it is also impossible to not see a ton!
Everything is so close and walkable that before you realize it, you’ve
stopped to see yet another band before you finally break to have lunch.
I have noticed the Finns eating lunch around 2:30 or 3pm this week. And
that’s unheard of!!
Maybe the late lunch is the seemingly Southern European climate we are
experiencing. This weather is making us all feel pretty lucky, I
suppose. That is, unless you’re stuck wearing a traditional outfit of
some kind for a performance under a baking-hot tent. But I think we’d
all agree that 27 degrees (and that’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit for those
of you wondering) and sunny every single day is definitely better than
10 degrees and raining! But people assure me over and over again that
THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Well, it is certainly a good trick to get me to come
back next year. I’ll order the same weather, please!
An international presence is definitely here at the festival, both
performers and guests alike. But what I feel beneath everything, the
roots of this festival, is Kaustinen. Beneath the noise and hubbub of
the huge increase in population this week is the same Kaustinen I’ve
seen since April. Näppärit, families, Pelimanni, familiar faces, and
the same traditional songs I’ve been hearing ever since I arrived. The
Kaustinen music is there, supporting the festival like a strong but
indiscriminating pillar. It may not be the main draw for all the
festival attendants, but it’s those familiar melodies, a continuous
humming in the background, that ties it all together.
E.U./Erasmus Mundus Research Intern
Folk Arts Centre, Kaustinen, Finland