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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Great Blue Heron Music Festival was first held in 1992.
Sherman, NY July 7, 8, 9 2006

Our initial motivation was the desire to host a Saturday afternoon barbecue/gathering with Donna the Buffalo. But our larger inspiration became the beautiful piece of land on which we stood to plan the party. By the end of that first meeting.we had decided to attempt a three-day event.
Located in the Amish-inhabited rolling hills of Western New York's Chautauqua County, the site virtually planned the layout for us. The main stage would fit nicely amid some pines at the foot of a naturally amphitheatric, maple-shaded hillside. The many acres of woods and trails seemed perfect for tent-campers, and we saw that adjacent fields could accommodate those who preferred to attend in campers or RVs. As our enthusiasm grew, we envisioned trucking in sand to create a beach alongside a large pond, the land's signature feature. As for performers, our experience in presenting local club shows had established relationships with many talented folks. As we contacted them with our idea, many went for it; most for little or no monetary reward. They included, along with ‘Donna’; Rusted Root, The Heartbeats, John & Mary, Rasta Rafiki and the late Colorblind James.
The first Blue Heron, drew about 900 people, and while it was no great financial success, the response by fans and everyone else involved, encouraged us to try again. By our second year, we had added a huge dance tent, along with performer-hosted music workshops, dance instruction, and a full slate of children's activities. In subsequent years, we added a songwriters' circle, cut new trails, and expanded our food and merchandise layout.
As we grew, parking became a problem, with cars along the road stretching to the horizon. Thanks to the neighbors, we added a huge field to accommodate them. As time went on we cleared more land to house those who preferred a quiet area, more removed from the center of things. This was so well received that we recently acquired a beautiful piece of land across the road, which has also become popular with the fans, offering a spectacular overview of the festival. As we prepare to enter our fifteenth year, we're grateful for the many wonderful friends we've made, and proud of our reputation for organization, safety and the opportunity to come together each year in the spirit of community and harmony. But we'd be remiss in not giving the lion's share of the credit to our hundreds of volunteers. Where all those wonderful people came from that first year, we still don't know. But not only are many of them still with us, they've been joined by a lot more, bringing the total each year to well over 500.
Each year we have all come together to form a truly harmonious community. The loyalty, enthusiasm and approval of all who have attended has become our true inspiration.

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