Trumansburg Connection: Four years in, Culture Camp still brings the magic


Culture Camp is a music and dance camp that is held in the days leading up to the GrassRoots Festival, July 14 - 17. Youth and adult attendees are able to experience intimate workshops led by their favorite musicians such as Preston Frank, Keith Secola, and Trumansburg’s own Amy Puryear, Richie Stearns, and members of Donna the Buffalo. The evenings bring dinner and dance events including Honky Tonk on Sunday, Cajun on Monday, Swing on Tuesday, and Zydeco on Wednesday. Tara Nevins, Culture Camp Coordinator, explains the Culture Camp history, and what is to come this year.

Elaine Springer: What was the impetus behind creating Culture Camp?

Tara Nevins: Over the years we’ve seen and been to a few of these music and dance camps whose purpose has, by and large, been to provide access to first-hand learning of traditional music and dance, to help in furthering and preserving the traditions. Some of them are hosted by a festival which usually then follows the camp directly as in our GrassRoots Culture Camp and there are some that stand alone as camps. It was Jonas Puryear who a few years ago suggested that a similar type of camp could work as part of the GrassRoots Festival experience. We all thought about it and decided to give it a go. Jonas also came up with the name Culture Camp. This year will be the fourth year and so far the camp is proving to have been a great idea and has been quite successful so far in its goal to provide an intimate, fun, educational, and community-minded opportunity.

ES: How has Culture Camp changed since the first year?

TN: Culture Camp is four years young this year and is constantly evolving into the ultimate camp experience. Because we are familiar with the way these camps work it was pretty easy four years ago to set the shape of the four days. Each day starts at 9 a.m. with workshops that continue until 6:30 p.m. Some of these workshops are fixed and happen every year but with different instructors. Each year new workshops are also introduced. There’s a group dinner at 6:30 p.m. and a dance at 8:30 p.m. Each dinner and dance reflects another music style and tradition. The camp is family friendly and offers workshops for all levels and ages.

Since the first year, we have gotten better at facilitating all of this smoothly and in a very organized manner while maintaining a super fun and party like atmosphere.

ES: Are there any changes this year that you want to let us know about?

TN: We make changes each year as we learn ways to maximize the attendee’s experience. We also learn from watching what other camps may or may not do. Some of these changes are or seem small but they have a positive effect. For instance this year we are going to have name tags for the attendees. I’ve seen this work wonderfully in helping folks get acquainted with each other. It’s hard to remember names when meeting a group in a setting like this and the name tags allow for that connection between everyone to happen easily. It makes a difference and goes a long way in helping create the community vibe. We have also made the dinners and dances open to the public. Not everyone desires the full camp experience of workshops but would enjoy being able to attend the dances at night and to join us for our fabulous dinners. This is a way to optimize the camp’s offerings to the community as a whole.

ES: What are you most excited about this year?

TN: I’m excited to have members of Feufollet coming from Lafayette, Louisiana to play the Cajun dance and teach the traditional Cajun style song, accordion, fiddle, guitar, and triangle. I am excited about having Miss Tess and the Talkbacks come from Nashville to play the Honky Tonk dance and teach a Honky Tonk/Country band lab, country guitar, drumming, and bass. I’m excited about the musical collaborations that are going to happen on stage at both the Cajun and Honky Tonk dance. I’m excited about Bobby Henrie and The Goners playing the swing dance, and of course, I’m super excited about having Preston Frank come to the camp and play the Zydeco Dance and teach Creole/zydeco accordion. Culture Camp would not be the same without Preston Frank, and this year Donna The Buffalo will be backing up Preston for the dance. There are many things I’m excited about, I can’t name them all.

ES: What do you love best about Culture Camp?

TN: As Culture Camp Coordinator I am excited every year about the mix of instructors, bands, and chefs that I bring together. I am excited about the possibilities, interactions, inspiration and overall art that the combination will bring about. It’s creating a super fun and educational party for everyone involved, providing an inspirational jumping off point and painting a rich cultural picture that everyone is part of. When it feels like a success in that way and everyone’s having a blast it’s very cool.

Culture Camp takes place at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds July 14 - 17. Tickets for workshops, dinners, and dances, and camping are on sale now. To purchase tickets and to view the full schedule, visit

In brief:

“Beloved Community Character” to Be Honored at Trumansburg Farmer’s Market
We are a nation that talks a great deal about who should be a citizen, yet speak less about how to be a citizen. The Ulysses Trumansburg Youth Commission seeks to correct this trend by honoring Durand Van Doren for his decades of service to the community’s children and youth.
All are welcome to attend a celebration commemorating Durand’s civic achievements at the Trumansburg Farmer’s Market beginning 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Following a brief ceremony at 6 p.m., there will be live music and cake.

Through a myriad of ways, Durand has volunteered his time and his skills for the betterment of children and youth in the community. Since 2007, he served as Youth Commissioner, engaging vendors, friends, and colleagues in events to raise funds for youth programming. In his role as a blacksmith, Durand has taken apprentices, teaching them the wonder, industry, and artistry of metal work.

This celebration follows the adoption of resolutions by the Village of Trustees and Ulysses Town Board declaring May 29, 2019 “Durand Day.” In closing, the resolution sums up the quality of Durand’s citizenship this way: “In a time of bitterness, choosing to serve offers a kind of healing grace. Durand lives these ideals in a manner that amplifies their influence. Cynicism melts around him as if he were a bonfire in the snow.”

Book Club Bar Crawl
From the Ulysses Philomathic Library: For our third and final Book Club Bar Crawl night on May 28 at 7 p.m.we’re headed to Little Venice to discuss The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. This book was a National Book Award Finalist and the film adaptation is coming out in theaters this month!
This program was co-sponsored by NYLA’s Reference and Adult Services Section.


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