MADISON

Spring Creek farm Rare Bird to host overnight music festival for 150 attendees

Johnny Casey
Asheville Citizen Times
In this photo from fall 2020, Madelyn Ilana performs at Rare Bird Farm.

SPRING CREEK - Hot Springs Resort & Spa's decision to no longer host overnight festivals, including French Broad River Festival, left Madison County music lovers longing for local music festivals.

Now, up to 150 residents will be able to carry on the tradition of attending a Madison County music festival, as Farrah Hoffmire and her husband Mitchell Davis will host the Doggett Gap Tiny Music & Heritage Festival May 20-22 at their Spring Creek residence, Rare Bird Farm. 

Hoffmire said she and her husband moved to the farm in March 2020 from Charleston, South Carolina. 

"We had the idea that this is what we wanted to do with the farm," Hoffmire said. "Because of the pandemic, we just wanted to do it small for families and friends and neighbors, which is what we did for the past two years — just small little intimate concerts, no more than 20 people at the most. We did meet with some people from (Hot Springs Resort &) Spa and had no idea that they weren't going to do (overnight festivals French Broad River Festival and Wild Goose Festival) anymore."

According to Hoffmire, the Rare Bird team — which also consists of the couple's friend, Ben Gibbins — made the decision to keep attendance manageable, hoping to keep the festival intimate and to encourage attendees to appreciate the music. 

Resonant Rogues perform at Rare Bird Farm.

While Doggett Gap will mark the first festival at Rare Bird, the farm has hosted numerous Madison-based acts since its foundation, including Resonant Rogues, Madelyn Ilana and The Harrows. 

"We're really, really pumped," Hoffmire said. "We have a lot of work to do as far as planning for campers. We're doing it small, so we're not in over our heads."

Hoffmire said she plans to highlight Appalachian music. 

The festival will also feature educational workshops, including a flatfooting and mountain music stringed instruments workshop, as well as a basket weaving demonstration. The schedule also includes a gospel brunch on Sunday, May 22. 

The festival schedule also includes a screening of David Hoffman's "Music Makers of the Blue Ridge," a 1965 film that ran on National Public Television and first showed America the music and the musicians of the Appalachian Mountains. The film follows Bascom Lamar Lunsford through the southern Appalachian region, including at Doggett Gap, and shows life as revealed in the music and dance of the area.

The Harrows perform a set at Rare Bird Farm in Dec. 2020. Rare Bird Farm will host its first festival May 20-22.

The festival founder said she and her husband's love for music has only grown since they moved to the area at the start of the pandemic. 

"Really, our passion for mountain music has evolved since moving here, and really since watching David Hofman's film on YouTube," she said. "He re-released it on YouTube during the pandemic, and we were actually seeking out films on music from this area, and stumbled upon his. That just sort of lit the fire of our inspiration." 

Hoffmire said she has been trying to track down Hoffman to make an appearance at the festival but has been unable to find him thus far. 

"We've been calling him, and we're trying to get him to come," she said. 

Other plans for Rare Bird festivals

According to Hoffmire, the Rare Bird team plans to host another festival, Lightning Bug Tiny Music Festival, July 1-3. 

"We wanted to start with these two tiny festivals, and if all goes well, then we'll do another one in the fall," Hoffmire said. "Before this year, we were doing once a month small shows. We'll probably pick that back up after we get through these two small festivals. If it all goes well, then we'll start booking acts every weekend probably." 

Also in July, Hoffmire will host its Inclusive Community Theatre Camp for adults with special needs, a nod to the HEART Inclusive Arts Community Hoffmire founded in Charleston in 2014. 

"The beauty of what I did back home was pairing artists with disabilities and artists without disabilities, and they created great art together - whether it be visual art, music or theatre theater," Hoffmire said. "So, that's what I'm trying to carry on here at the farm, is inclusive theater camp. We'll start out small, and then see where that goes. It's a new concept, so it's kind of hard for people to wrap their heads around. But, it's campers with or without disabilities, and in seven days we will create a play together and perform it for the Spring Creek community." 

Hoffmire said about 60 tickets sold during the Doggett Gap Music & Heritage Festival's early bird ticketing period, held through March 1. Tickets to the two festivals and inclusive theater camp are available online at https://rarebirdfarm.org/concert-tickets