In the spirit of Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson and Isadora Duncan, Amy Belfer, a 14-year-old resident of Mohegan Colony in Cortlandt, captured an audience with her cultivated skill of storytelling this Saturday. Belfer was performing at the 11th annual Mohegan Colony Storytelling and Music Festival, which takes place the second weekend of every August. Belfer has been attending the festival since she was three years old and recently became involved in the art of story-telling herself after enjoying a sixth grade class named “The Story Telling Spectacular.” Belfer now tells stories wherever she can find a captive audience.
Mohegan Colony has hosted the likes of Seeger, Robeson, Duncan and other well-known artists and performers since 1923 when the colony was founded.
“We want to bring the spirit that was in this community back, and each of the storytellers and musicians here today are a world class talent that everyone should be listening to,” event organizer Judith Heineman said. The festival was held in the Martha Ginsberg Pavilion and the Garden Road school in Mohegan Lake, Cortlandt.
The annual festival strives to preserve the values and ideals in which the Mohegan Colony was founded, as an escape from stifling city life, as stated in its Constitution’s preamble. “The realities of life in large cities restricts us of occupations entirely out of the harmony of our principles and ideals. Even our social activities are not a free and unhampered expression of the truest and best in us.”
At Saturday’s festival children and adults performed on two stages with adults on the Martha Ginsberg pavilion stage and the children on the Garden Road School stage. The acts varied from a three-piece band named “Honey;” who fused together storytelling and music with guitars and a stand up bass, to Bob Reiser, who co-authored a book with Pete Seeger called “Everybody Says Freedom,” who told an epic tale the Civil Rights Movement.
Storyteller Jasmine Cardenus performed on both stages, providing boisterous and animated delivery enjoyed by both kids and adults. Groaning and cackling into flickering candle-light, Cardenus successfully spooked the listeners of her evening “Ghost Stories” session, which closed the festival from 8 to 10:30 p.m.
Other acts included “The Edukated Fleas,” ukelele players and singers Greg Doyle and Wendy Matthews; actor, director and storyteller Joy Kelly; M.C. and self described “creative communicator” Mike Seliger; and National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award recipients and a crowd favorite “The Story Crafters.”
The Mohegan Colony Storytelling and Music Festival is always held the second weekend of every August. It is funded by a circle of donors, including the Mohegan Colony Association and is brought together by a network of performers and activists who are passionate about keeping alive values and tradition in which the Colony was founded.
Watch a video of the festival above.
For more information on the Mohegan Colony visit their website here.