Sometime in or around 1980 there was a sitting-around-the-kitchen meeting between a group of friends that resulted in the formation of the Monadnock Folklore Society. The group consisted of myself, Mary DesRosiers, Gary Heald, Jennifer Price, and Ken Wilson. It took a couple of years for MFS to be officially set up as an organization with 501-C3 status, but the ball was rolling.
There were two great influences for founding MFS. One was the Monday night dance, which had been started by Peter Temple in Harrisville in January of 1978 (look for 30th anniversary coverage on this Web site coming up). Not that contra dancing wasn’t already popular in these parts, but this particular dance provided an opportunity for new callers and musicians to get experience. It wasn’t until many years later, after the dance had moved to Nelson, that MFS became the official sponsor, but I know that the early Monday night dances certainl enriched the environment – making it fertile folk ground.
The other major influence was the Folkway Coffeehouse in Peterborough, which had been running strong for five years at that point, and was a primary stop for performers on the New England folk circuit. Already well nourished by what the Folkway was doing,� the region was receptive to more concerts, which MFS was able to provide often in larger venues.
It must be acknowledged that in those early years MFS was long on vision and a bit short on the principals of good management. That’s often how things start: MFS has been fortunate to learn, to adapt, and to grow in ways that make it a much stronger organization.
This Web site represents a next step for MFS in more effectively serving the community. While the original MFS newsletter (circa 1980, composed on an IBM-Selectric typewriter and literally cut and pasted together) could only be financially sustained for a few issues, we now have the opportunity to publish again. In the coming months this site will start accumulating a wealth of articles, reviews, and video documentaries. We can now provide efficient listings not only for our events, but for other folk-related activities going on in the Monadnock region. We will not only better serve the audience, but also the performer community, through the establishment of a regional folk-directory. Please take some time to explore. You can make comments (we will review before publishing) on this article (click on “Comments” just below) , or you can send us email with ideas and suggestions.
Thinking back to the early days of the Monadnock Folklore Society, it was clearly a work in progress. I believe it is a measure of the organization’s success that it can still be considered such. My observation at recent local contra dances is that at least half of the dancers weren’t even born yet when MFS was founded. We must be doing something right.
On a personal note: my formal involvement with MFS ended in the late 1980’s, though I have continued to enjoy going to many of the concerts, and playing piano for MFS-sponsored dances. I am priviledged to now be able to participate again, as a contributor to this Web site. GP