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Playing Music in the Valley

In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the historic Hale Farm & Village, an outdoor living museum of life in the 19th century.

Jonathan Hale, a farmer from Connecticut, came to what was then the Western Reserve in 1810. Three generations of Hales lived in the house he built in 1825.

Across what is now Oak Hill Road, a small village dots the bucolic landscape with barns, a church, a schoolhouse, a pottery shop and other small buildings . Today, reenactors inhabit the village to display blacksmithing, glassblowing and other trades. Great Lakes Brewing Co. operates a small organic farm, where it grows vegetables and herbs to be used in its restaurant. Hale Farm & Village is open year round, and each July it hosts Music in the Valley in collaboration with the local non-profit group Folknet.



This past weekend marked the event's 40th. In the video above, you'll see the wide variety of music represented at the two-day affair. The group I played with shows up at the 1:10 mark. The circle grew much bigger by Saturday afternoon.

This was my first year attending Music in the Valley, and I was toting along my 10-month-old son, as my wife worked that day. It was our first big father-son adventure, as I usually only run short errands while on Dad Duty. I brought just my banjo, as 1.) I'm not comfortable enough playing my fiddle in a jam yet, and 2.) it would have been way too much to carry, what with the baby, stroller, diaper bag, camp chair and other supplies.

As it was, I had to rig up a strap for my banjo case so I could sling it around my shoulder. I used a length of nylon rope I keep in the car for tying down the trunk when hauling large items. It looked ridiculous, but it worked.

The event goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with overnight camping available for those interested in attending both days. Musicians get in free, otherwise it's $10 for adults and $5 for ages 3 to 18. My son and I showed up around 1 p.m. and stayed until about 4:30.

Hale Farm is only a 15-minute drive from my house. I didn't know what I was missing by not attending past years. This will have to become a regular event for my family. In addition to the music festival, Hale Farm also hosted a wine tasting event during the weekend. There is plenty to do for young and old, musicians and non-musicians alike.

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