The Whispering Beard Folk Festival, which happens the third weekend of August each year, in tiny wooded, hilly and bucolic Friendship, Indiana (pop 87) – turned ten this year – and that’s something like fifty in human years.
As festivals go, the Beard is notable because it has not only matured nicely and established itself as an important cultural event (more on that below); but it has also maintained its youthful good looks and clarity of vision.
It’s a special place and the special nature of the festival is reflected in the happy thoughtful faces you see there during the weekend. I’ve done my best to capture those faces in this piece.
I hope they speak to you.
For a more complete look and review of the festival check out the piece I did for Polly Magazine with my associate Matt Steffen.
As I explained in the Polly piece, the Beard’s appeal rests on its limited size and friendly folk. Friendship is happy to have the festival. The Beard is thrilled to be in Friendship and remains an important contributor to the local economy. The result is a working relationship predicated upon mutual respect, and need.
Concert goers, in return, respect the town, appreciating this unique opportunity and beautiful setting. They set up communal kitchens and self-contained tent villages. Artists and guests mingle freely. There are also, on grounds, unique vendors of hand-made goods and food – also sold at very reasonable prices.
The people who attend the Beard are not better human beings, but they are kinder – simply because they’re friends; accordingly, people are relaxed. Such conditions make for very happy hunting for portrait photographers. Especially if one is known and trusted walking in the gate.
As this was my fourth Beard, I was fortunate in that people were willing to let me into their worlds. I am fortunate that they are willing to show me their true faces.
I think it’s for all of these reasons, I found mostly happiness in the faces which surrounded me there. It’s a great gift to see so many people feel comfortable with themselves- and are brave enough to share that contentment. As you know, it’s a rare thing these days.
It’s as rare as seeing people smiling, dancing and laughing- and yet there was plenty of all that.
Take in these portraits. I hope they make you smile and give you the courage to rise above the ugliness which currently permeates our land and its peoples.
Wanna piss off the people ruining this country? Dare to be happy. Dare to be yourself. Walk to your kitchen calendar right now and save the weekend for Whispering Beard 2011.