VMLAG 2021 Post Gathering Newsletter

Kathie Hollandsworth – Festival Director and Chairman of the Board

Director’s Recap


This message has two purposes, so please be patient and read to the end.
FIRST – Thanks so much for your participation and engagement in making Virtual MLAG 2021 a success! We are very grateful for your support in registering and your enthusiasm in attending the webinars and social hours – and many of you will watch them for the first time in the next few weeks or replay sessions you want to revisit. This virtual gathering differed in many ways from our in-person gatherings – no jamming, no getting to hang out with our performers one-on-one, and no visiting our wonderful vendors and luthiers and trying out their harps! But we know that we reached lots of new people and new players, and we’re happy about that!
Everyone involved learned a great deal in the last few months! Our instructors presented wonderful workshops and demonstrations of their various styles – kudos to Cathy Britell, Les Gustafson-Zook, Karen Mueller, Mike Fenton, Patrick Couton, Cindy Harris & Jody Kruskal, Drew Smith, Ivan Stiles, Karen Torell Hoffman, and Ron Wall, and our six luthiers – Pete Daigle, Ken Ellis, Warren Fisher, Tom Fladmark, John Hollandsworth, and Greg Schreiber.
Our Board members served as moderators, helped behind the scenes, crunched numbers, and facilitated social hours: Jim Adams, Gregg Averett, Frank Baker, Pete Daigle, Maggie Dodd, Rick Fitzgerald, Tom Fladmark, Deb Schreiber, Greg Schreiber, Coleen Walters, and of course the highly valuable technical experts and mission control team of Niels Jonker and Neal Walters. Michael Poole, our Registrar, spent many, many hours checking and confirming each and every order and helping individual registrants.
Since our 30th Mountain Laurel Gathering plans for 2020 were blasted by Covid, we made the conscious decision to not call this year’s virtual event our 30th. We had booked an incredibly special lineup for that ill-fated Gathering in 2020. Some of them taught virtually this year, and that slate will still be our performers for the 30th in-person Gathering in 2022! Our slate for next year will be Les Gustafson-Zook, Cindy Harris, June Maugery, Karen Mueller, Ivan Stiles, Ron Wall, and a host of other fine workshop leaders.
Now, to the SECOND purpose of this message: For the past 20 years or so, MLAG has been held at Little Buffalo – first a privately owned campground, then a state park. It was a big upgrade from our original site at the Orthey farm, but also brought with it other, different challenges, from topography to renting all the gear, to catering and deteriorating performer housing. So, a search began several years ago, slowly and quietly, and then in earnest. Some of you may remember that we did a survey last year – thanks to Warren Fisher for helping design it. It really helped inform us about your wants, needs, and desires.
Under the able leadership of Coleen Walters, a subcommittee was formed. Coleen called and researched around 50 potential sites of all kinds, and the subcommittee toured some of them. None of them had everything we wanted… lodging & camping on site, air conditioning, less physical work, reasonable cost, availability. We are picky! And wanted you to be pleased with whatever decision we made – to stay or move.
Finally, just this spring, we settled on one place that miraculously satisfied all our criteria…. Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. You can check it out at www.ship.edu but of course their website is aimed at recruiting college students, not autoharp players
In a nutshell… We will have on-site lodging in a luxurious dormitory with private baths for each room or suite; on-site tent camping and RV parking, (no hookups); three meals a day (included with the lodging fee) in a food court-style dining hall that offers every conceivable menu option; and a building for our concerts, workshops, and vendors that is completely fitted out with all the logistics and equipment we will need. Everything is completely accessible, and the buildings are in a compact area of the campus.
One important thing – In order to have this almost-perfect situation, at a time when we will have all these facilities to ourselves, our dates will change. The 30th Gathering will be June 6-12, 2022, and the first full week of June thereafter. We will still have three Pre-Gathering classes on June 7-8, and the actual Gathering will begin on Wednesday afternoon, June 8, and go through 2:00 on Sunday, June 12. We anticipate that registration for the 2022 Gathering will be available by October 15th, 2021 or earlier.

Next year we will hold our 30th Gathering, and we consider that a pretty big deal. And, if YOU want to be a part of that legacy, join us in 2020, where we will continue to make an indelible mark in the records, the memories, and the hearts of all who love this instrument. While with us, you will enjoy the music and talents of a terrific slate of performers chosen to help us mark this milestone year:

Karen Mueller—Ron Wall—Les Gustafson-Zook—Ivan Stiles—June Maugery—Cindy Harris

These performers are regularly among the most requested on attendee evaluation forms. So, here they are!  Don’t miss ‘em.

I would like to end with a couple of appeals. First, go to this link or the bottom of our home page and opt-in to our email notification list. It is only for essential notifications regarding the Gathering and is a step required by new privacy laws.

Whew! That was a lot! But there was big news to share, and we’ll have more as time goes on!
Again, thanks for your support of Mountain Laurel and for sharing your music with each other and with us!

Kathie Hollandsworth
Festival Director