The Life is good Festival, held for the second year at Prowse Farm at the scenic foot of the Blue Hill Mountain, was off to an excellent start on Saturday. A well-attended crowd that swelled as the day progressed and the rain withheld was rewarded with an action-packed festival that offered a wide variety of music, games, crafts and food.
The annual event is a charity held by the Life is good Company, which is head-quartered in Boston and New Hampshire. All of the proceeds from the event are donated to the Life is good Playmakers, a non-profit group of experts who teach health-care and education professionals how to use therapeutic play to enhance the quality of life of children who have undergone or are undergoing traumatic events.
This makes the event a huge draw for many music lovers who want to make every dollar count and feel rewarded by the chance to give money to a good cause.
Anna Kay and her family traveled several hours from South Berwick, Maine, to support the cause. “It’s a very good family-day and great cause,” she said.
Employees of the Life is good Company were heavy among the ranks of volunteers that welcomed the thousands of attendees on Saturday.
“The whole work-year culminates in this event. If you work for Life is good, you really want to be here,” explained Stephanie Manners, an employee volunteer from New Hampshire.
Other volunteers helped run varied activities such as face-painting, a bungee-jump, a rock-climbing wall, and the “Art for All” Mural, containing 1,500 mural tiles individually painted during the festival by festival attendees. The “family friendly” vibe of the Life is good Festival has lived up to its reputation once again, with several play-spaces set-up that included lots of foam building blocks and bean bags for kids to enjoy.
Of course, the sounds of the stage and performance super-stars Ingrid Michelson and Michael Franti could also be easily enjoyed from the activity-areas, making the event more family-centered than stage centered, for those who preferred.
Like last year, the festival was designed to rotate big-acts between three well-spaced stages, so that as one band closed down their set, the next band was ready to play at the next. This fluid staging gave people opportunities to roam around the venue, exploring the many vendor-tables that also supported the Life is good charity. Clowns Without Borders, a professional group which seeks to lighten the lives of children and adults in trauma, performed several trapeze shows throughout the day.
On the “Good Kids Stage”, Laurie Berkner and Friends played to a full, pint-sized crowd of toddlers and school-age children. She played at the festival last year, and this year became the headliner children’s act. Her theatrics included singing a song about animals with a stuffed pig on her head, and encouraging the whole audience to dance. Laurie Berkner has several popular CD’s under her glittery belt by this time, so when she and her band embarked on a “montage” of favorite songs, the audience kept right up with her and sang along.
In contrast to the giddy-pace of Laurie Berkner’s music, the Avett Brothers, the folk-rock band from North Carolina, headlined the Main Stage with their closing performance, drawing thousands of fans and enchanting the audience with a vacillating combination of lyrical song-writing, tempo-changes and gritty vocals. The audience was treated to many favorite tunes, such as “Love and Hate,” “Kickdrum Heart” and “January Wedding," and were even more delighted when the Avett Brothers sang two brand-new, not-yet-recorded songs from their impending album.
While many folks attended from out of state and out of town, local Canton residents all played a huge part at the festival. Canton Police, along with several state troopers, directed the massive crowds smoothly through the busy 138 intersection. Canton High School students volunteered and received community-service learning credit for their valuable time.
One student, CHS senior Ericka Berman, was not only a volunteer but a Team Leader.
“I’m often wrapped into doing community service," Berman said. "But I don’t think of it as community service always, because I think it is so fun!”
Other locals in Canton also had a stake in the festival. For example, the Hillside Pub, just across the road from Prowse Farm, was looking forward to a brisk evening of business brought in from the huge crowds at the festival.
“Any time you move people to the vicinity it’s more of an advantage to us. It’s all good…no pun intended!” joked Pub Owner Walter McCann.
Canton’s Prowse Farm hosted day two of the 2011 Life is good Festival on Sunday, with headline performers including Ray LaMontagne, The Levon Helm Band, Raphael Saadiq and the Ryan Montbleau Band set to perform to for another generous crowd of music lovers.