The West End Oral History and Folklife Festival is being offered as part of the ICH office’s 3rd Annual Folklife Festival and will be held in two sessions: during the day on Wednesday, August 17th and on Saturday afternoon, evening and night, August 20th.
The theme of this year’s ICH Festival is “Seeds to Supper” an homage to agri-culture and education in food sustainability in Newfoundland Labrador. The West End festival seeks to present agricultural history in urban neighbourhoods in St. John’s. The geographic focus is from the Memorial to Tommy Ricketts on Water Street west to the ‘Crossroad’s, the location where Water Street west, Waterford bridge Road and Topsail Roads converge. The site goes north primarily from the bottom of Patrick Street to Wesleyan United Church on Hamilton Avenue (at Patrick St.), west past Victoria Park, Hamilton Hall (the CEI Club) and then to the Laurier Club at the top of the street. This neighbourhood was once the industrial heartland of the city as well as a farming region prior to that. Currently there are about 30 businesses in the area including a music store, lettuce farm, Pennecon, the Labatt’s Brewery and one of the oldest businesses in the city, not to mention the lovely Victoria Park, perhaps best known currently as the home of the Lantern Festival, held every year in the summer.
All Folklore graduate students and upper classmen who require practical ethnographic experience for their degree and diploma programs are welcome to participate in a volunteer capacity to carry out original fieldwork in a supervised community setting. Students may also volunteer to become festival administrators, presenters and programmers. A ‘buddy system’ and team structure will be engaged.
Options for fieldwork include occupational and labour folklife, the dockyards, the rail yards, folk art and music; old farms once right off Water Street; food sustainability for urban residents; river management in Victoria Park; and the history of the CEI Club. This building is turning into condominiums so opportunities abound for the analysis of the gentrification of the neighbourhood. Interest in children’s folklore past and present is welcome, as is the contemporary impact of the lack of children in the locale. Anyone interested in working with senior citizens on any topic should consider this opportunity to carry out original, independent field work. Finally, histories of Victoria Park, along with folklore of the park are also welcome.
Field work will officially start after Canada Day and will conclude with the festival dates. Students who wish to volunteer to conduct festival programming are welcome as well. Ultimately, the festival will be a place where students can, if they choose, apply their fieldwork for common good. If you wish, you can do as much fieldwork as you can fit into July month. Technical equipment is not necessary to participate in this project. The only requirement for the project is a brief essay summarizing your fieldwork and suggestions for additional fieldwork (4-5 pages). This essay must be completed by the festival date (August 17th).
Folklorist Kathryn Foley, MA (Memorial Folklore 1987), has experience in the public sector from 1987-1994 in New York State and Pennsylvania. She has edited and written curricula, managed the field office for a graduate student institute in oral history; taught ethnography and oral history to ninth graders and has extensive communication and networking skills. Folk art is a specialization. Additional information is available on her profile on the website, Linked In. Students will be provided with a Certificate of Participation as well as a reference letter upon request.
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