By Julianne Mosher
If you have a love for folk music, head over to Benner’s Farm in East Setauket on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the 11th annual Fiddle and Folk Festival. Just in time for fall, the event will have a little something for everyone.
Held on the grounds of the historic farm, that has been owned by Bob Benner and his family since 1977, festival-goers can always expect the best in traditional and contemporary folk music plus other fun-filled farm activities suitable for all ages.
“Bob Benner has been instrumental in the Fiddle and Folk Festival for years,” said Amy Tuttle, program director for the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.
Tuttle added that the festival was held for many years at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Unfortunately, it stopped for a bit, until Benner “resurrected it.”
“It’s always on the first Sunday after Labor Day,” said Tuttle, who said that the GPJAC has been involved every year at Benner’s since — except for one year which was during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have an eclectic variety of music, so there’s something for everybody.”
This year’s performers include The Slambovian Circus of Dreams (back by popular demand), Cassandra House, Barbecue Bruce and the Brisket Brothers, and last year’s “Pick of the Crop,” Stephen Robinson and Hank Stone. Bob Westcott will emcee and entertain between sets with stories and song.
With the exception of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, who are popular regulars on the folk festival scene, the rest of the performers are all Long Island locals; Cassandra House is from the South Shore and Barbecue Bruce and the Brisket Brothers (Bruce MacDonald, Dan Skabeikis and John Brisotti) hail from the North Fork.
Tuttle also mentioned the “Pick of the Crop,” a new contest that was implemented last year. The idea is for performers to virtually audition online before the festival with finalists performing in-person the day of the festival in front of a group of judges. Those judges then decide which of the finalists will perform on the main stage at next year’s festival.
Right now, there is an online submission page where musicians, singers and songwriters can submit their work. The first round of judges will then choose from those submissions who made it to the next round, performing on the Shady Grove Stage.
“It’s a really nice festival,” Tuttle said. “Everyone always has a great time.”
If the main stage and contest stages weren’t enough, there’s more. This year, an open mic stage will be presented on the back of Bob Benner’s old ’24 Model T Truck.
Benner said that other than the music and food that will be available to enjoy, there will be other fun things to do — especially for the little ones.
“We’ll have a kid’s corner and caricatures,” he said, adding Long Island’s largest swing will be available to play on. Visitors will also be available to visit with the farm’s many animals including sheep, goats and chickens.
“The Fiddle and Folk Festival is a perfect way to ease out of all the fun things we have been doing over the summer and head into the fall,” Tuttle said. “It’s relaxed and a great way to unwind before the start of the school year.”
Presented by Homestead Arts, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and Benner’s Farm, the music festival will be held rain or shine.
Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road in East Setauket. Advance sale tickets for the Fiddle & Folk Festival are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for children. Tickets on the day of the event are $23 adults, $20 seniors and $10 for children.
Audience members are encouraged to bring their own seating. A full schedule of performances and events along with applications for the “Pick of the Crop” contest are available at www.fiddleandfolk.com. For more information, call 631-689-8172.