A Very Oberlin Weekend
May 6, 2019
Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21
This weekend I went to three concerts, one parade, a poetry slam, and jumped on a fellow student’s trampoline.
Just Oberlin things.
Ok, so I say this partly in jest, but if you read any blogger’s work, or talk to any student on campus, or look at the Oberlin events calendar, or at the many, many events that I’ve said I’m “interested” in on Facebook (a terrible encouragement of lax social commitment for an introvert…), it’s readily apparent that there are always. So. Many. Things. Happening. Here.
May is a beautiful month in Oberlin. Even though last week it was in the 50s and very wet and grey, causing me to become quite grouchy, it is normally pleasantly warm (if a little humid), with some sun, and everything becomes flowered and green and lush, a final, glorious departure from the bleak winter months. This past weekend was one I looked forward to for a long time. Two of my very favorite Oberlin events were this past weekend—Folk Fest and Big Parade!
Folk Fest is an amazing weekend-long folk music festival in Oberlin, featuring guest musicians the Folk Fest committee brings in each year, and Oberlin student musicians, who are always already amazing and basically professionals themselves—one guy who opened the main show last year was literally taking that year off of school to tour the country playing music. Last year, I didn’t know what Folk Fest was, because it was my first year at Oberlin. I didn’t know much about folk music either, but it seemed like a fun event, so I decided to go. Last year, the Folk Fest committee brought Margaret Glaspy and Josh Ritter to campus. On the night that Josh Ritter played people got in line so early to get in, and I’ve almost never seen Finney Chapel as full as it was. In the words of some anonymous Obie now immortalized in the quotes notes page in my phone, “It’s like Christmas and Woodstock all in one!” Naturally, this year I was very excited when Folk Fest posters started appearing around campus, because it was just SO amazing last year. This weekend, on Friday night I went to not one but TWO concerts at the Cat in the Cream Coffee House, one of my favorite performance venues on campus (where fellow blogger Hanne works!). I got there at 7 PM and stayed until almost 11. The two headliner musicians were Amethyst Kiah and Sudan Archives, both with incredible student openers, who always blow me away almost as much, if not the same amount, as the headliner musicians. I hadn’t heard of either of the musicians before, but I really appreciated that Folk Fest brought in two women of color, especially since the folk music genre—and the music industry in general—is dominated by white men! I had a wonderful evening listening to hours and hours of live music FOR FREE!!!
Saturday started in a slightly disappointing way. It was the morning of Big Parade: a large parade that happens once a year in Oberlin on a May morning, with floats, dancing, music, and free food afterwards! Last year’s Big Parade was perfect, as I got to be in it with the Girls in Motion kids and mentors, and then spent the whole afternoon in the sun with my friends as we listened to live student folk music (because it was Folk Fest the same weekend), ate cotton candy, and made crowns out of dandelion chains. That day was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had in Oberlin, so of course I had high hopes for Big Parade this year. Sadly, I woke up to a cold and overcast morning, rather than the sun and warmth I had remembered. However, despite the weather, I had an amazing time with my friends watching Big Parade, which featured a variety of groups and floats, including the Lawn Chair Brigade (group of seniors from the nearby retirement home, Kendal, who do a drill team with pastel colored lawn chairs), the Prospect Elementary jump rope team, Oberlin steel drum performance group OSTEEL, a group of people dressed entirely in butterfly (and bee and bat) costumes to promote saving pollinators, Oberlin Resource Conservation Team, etc. etc. After the parade ended, we got free Indian food! Since it was getting cold, and we were done eating, a bunch of my friends and I decided to go to the Oberlin Free Store in the basement of Asia House. My friends Alex and Piper dropped off a bunch of clothes they were getting rid of, and I copped some nice items, which all ended up being some variation of white, blue, and grey, which were the exact colors I was wearing that day, oops. What can I say? I like consistency. Saturday ended with an amazing Kentucky Derby themed special meal at my co-op (can you believe this disqualification drama with Maximum Security???), featuring a Derby pie, which is a chocolate pecan pie and included one of the best co-op pie crusts I have ever eaten. After the meal, I went to the third headliner performance of Folk Fest, Sam Amidon. The best part was seeing a group of Obies gradually form on the side of Finney Chapel, dancing and bouncing around to the music, going especially hard to the “banjo train songs” (of which Sam Amidon played two), demanding an encore performance from Amidon who ended the concert with an interactive sing-along, which, of course, Obies harmonized to without being prompted to do so.
Sunday brought some stress, since I have three exams this week BEFORE Finals Week (what the heck?!), but I still managed to have a great time. Besides there being caramelized onion tart at Tank lunch (my co-op KILLS it), after my crew shift I worked at Blue Rooster, my favorite bakery in town, with some friends. I couldn’t resist buying a salted caramel cookie to fortify myself while I was studying. After I was all studied out, I went to the last OSLAM (Oberlin’s slam poetry group, which Hanne is also in!) performance of the semester, which was at the gazebo in Tappan Square. Luckily, the weather was perfect and sunny. To make the event even sweeter, Hanne had brought a homemade strawberry-peach cake that the audience and the poets all got to eat together. We listened to some great poetry, and then Hanne got a beautiful send-off from the team, since she is graduating (*cries*). After a quick Stevie dinner, I went to the last tumbling exco class of the semester. It ended up being just me, one other student, and two of the instructors (including fellow blogger Teague). We decided to go to Teague’s house and jump on his trampoline, and I was able to do a trick that I hadn’t been able to do before, which was an awesome feeling. Before we ran out of time, we drove back to Hales Gym (blasting music from a borrowed speaker) and built a gigantic tower out of all the mat and mat-like foam things in the gym, which we then proceeded to knock over. I have really enjoyed going to tumbling every Sunday evening this semester, and it was the perfect way to finish an awesome weekend at Oberlin College.
So, yeah. This weekend was busy. Despite that, I found myself feeling rested and mentally rejuvenated last night, ready to take on the last week of classes before reading period and finals (!!!). The past three days were so full of friends, food, music, and movement. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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