SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The 33rd annual Flurry Festival brought thousands to the Spa City for a weekend filled with music and dance.
This year’s Flurry Festival, held Friday through Sunday, featured hundreds of performers and more than 250 events throughout four different venues in Saratoga Springs.
Though a final count is yet to be determined, the festival’s administrative director Tamara Flanders estimated that the 2020 festival attracted more than 5,000 attendees.
“The last couple of days have just been jam-packed. Every venue has been completely packed,” Flanders said on Sunday at the Saratoga Springs City Center, which serves as the festival’s headquarters each year.
Throughout all aspects of this multifaceted festival, Flanders and her follow organizers aim to create a community-focused atmosphere while celebrating international music and culture.
“We like to create an environment where everyone feels welcome,” she said. “So there’s all ages, all religions, all genders, all identities – and everyone’s just hanging out together, having a really good time.”
Among the weekend’s activities were dance sessions in styles such as Tahitian, French, Balkan, African, Indian, German, Irish, Scottish, English, Cajun, zydeco, Cuban and Native American – along with lots of contra and swing dancing. “We have it all,” Flanders said.
For the first time this year, the Flurry Festival kicked off on Friday afternoon with a swing dance intensive, which proved to be a popular program.
“It was really, really fun. It was our first time trying something new like that and it was really well received,” Flanders said. “People had a really good time, and the instructors were wonderful.”
Within the crowd of dancers on Sunday was first-time Flurry Festival attendee Jess Brown, who traveled from Ithaca to be part of the action. “It’s a little bit intimidating. There are so many dancers that know so much,” she said, “but it’s exciting for sure.”
Brown was primarily interested in participating in some contra dance sessions. “I absolutely love contra dance,” she said. “I feel like it is an antidote to a divided society. We’re thrown in to dance with each other. There’s really no questions about it. You’re just going to dance with the next person in line. And ideally, if you don’t want to get dizzy, you’re going to look at them in the eyes.”
Some festivalgoers even traveled internationally to be at the 2020 Flurry Festival, like guitarist Ian Clark, of Ottawa, Canada, who attended for his second time over the weekend.
“My wife comes down to dance every year. I dance a bit, but I also play in a contra dance band. So I like jamming,” he said in between playing jam sessions on Sunday. “There’s a lot of different kinds of music here, and you can jam with different musicians. It’s a really eclectic festival if you’re a musician or a dancer.”
The next Flurry Festival, the 34th annual, is already scheduled for Feb. 12, 13 and 14 of 2021.