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HarvestBall
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Our weekend at NEFFA

This weekend was the annual weekend event called NEFFA. It is a festival full of folk dancing of every type, wonderful music, several thousand smiling people all having a great time and a huge crew of volunteers who make it happen. It takes place in the Mansfield, MA Middle and High schools; the gyms are the main dance halls, the auditoriums and various classrooms are used for other activities. Morris and sword dancers dance outside. I did a lot of Contra dancing and English Country Dancing, lots of schmoozing with people I see at our dances, other dances and at this annual event, and worked at our food booth.

There are always groups of musicians in the halls jamming. Various crafts people sell stuff - shoes, clothing, musical instruments, pottery, etc. I bought another skirt from my favorite skirt vendor - I saw a versions of the one I bought last year and the year before skirts there.

If you want to know what NEFFA stands for see this Jan 27 comic strip:

I made a Tshirt using an iron on thingie with this on it to wear on Saturday and lots of people got a kick out of that. Someone said it is unfair to have a tshirt with so much writing on it that makes it hard to read the whole thing while dancing with me.

Our several dance groups run a food booth. This was the 12th year we did it. We serve pasta with meatballs (veggie or hoofed); marinara, pesto, or butter sauce; hotdogs, meatball sandwiches; salad with homemade dressings, scones, cookies, muffins, croissants and stuffed pockets, popovers and frittata for breakfast; teas, coffees, lemonade and iced tea. We cook in the kitchen and follow all the health regulations. The kitchen staff washes the pots and pans. Sam, Chris, Read, and Rich work essentially full-time with a cadré of about 30 volunteers serving and selling and coin miscellaneous tasks. rsc is the volunteer coordinator; we sometime worry that we aren't filling enough shifts and some people are reluctant to commit to times until the last minute. But we had plenty of people and some people just show up and say can I work. It just shows how strong our community is.

The profits (we don't know how much yet) - but it usually is in the $4,000-$7,000 range go to the dance groups to help make up losses and make sure we can keep hiring good musicians and callers. Our lightly attended English Country Dance series would no longer exist without these funds.

I love working at this food booth. Everyone has a good time, it is fun to banter with the other workers and customers, many of who I know from dancing.

I had to leave one of the dance sessions before it was over to serve a shift at the food booth, but as I was about to change my shoes I espied a cute guy who clearly needed a dance partner so I stayed for one more dance. Then on the way back I passed a group of musicians jamming (a group that has played at our dances in JP) and I had to stop to listen - especially since it was one of my favorite tunes. Then further along there was another group that I had to stop to listen to and dance a bit informally with someone standing there. So I was late for my shift.

At the end we sell off leftover food at bargain prices e.g. make us an offer. Some nice giggling kids bought a huge slew of cookies as we were closing down.



The cafeteria and maintenance staff at the Mansfield Schools are great. They are friendly, cheerful, extremely helpful and enjoy having us here. (It is at the end of School vacation week). I always talk to them and express our appreciation to them. This is a welcome change from the school system where the festival used to be held.

It was such a wonderful weekend. I'm still a bit exhausted. Pretty nice month - dance camp the previous weekend in California, NEFFA this weekend, a whole weekend off (well we have a dance on Saturday night) \, and then our weekend dance camp.

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Some nice giggling kids bought a huge slew of cookies as we were closing down.

Those kids came by at least twice during that last half-hour, and grabbed about as many cookies and muffins as they could carry. They were really cute. As I remarked after they had left, I'm glad I was not the adult in charge of them for the evening.

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