The Charlemont Reggae Festival returns after a two-year hiatus. This year’s festival poster displayed the words “Rooted in Love and Positivity” as it marks the 25th time this festival has taken place.
Steven and Ben Goldsher, however, have only organized two of these iconic festivals — this year being their second.
Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan met up with this father and son team to discuss this year’s festival and their plans for its future.
Learn how festival co-organizer Steven Goldsher fell in love with reggae music in a digital exclusive interview.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: After a two year hiatus, the legendary Charlemont Reggae Festival returned to the town fairgrounds this past summer.
While this year marked the 25th time the event has been held, for Steven and Ben Goldsher, it was only their second year of organizing it. Connecting Points Brian Sullivan met up with this father and son team to discuss this year’s festival and their plans for its future.
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: It’s just a little after 12:30 in the afternoon on what turned out to be a very hot and sunny Saturday here in northwest Franklin County. And the echoes of soundchecks can be heard reverberating throughout the Charlemont fairgrounds.
After a two year hiatus, there’s probably no one more excited to see it back than this father and son combo who could be found early in the day, making sure that attendees found their parking spaces.
Ben Goldsher, Charlemont Reggae Fest: There’s music all day long, it’s all going to be amazing. As you can hear in the background, we’re just kicking off the day.
We have a band that’s been playing here for years, they’re called The Equalites, they’re one of the local favorites and they’re just putting on a show already.
Brian Sullivan : The town of Charlemont covers roughly 26 and a half miles, and it’s loaded with natural beauty, much of which can be found right here at the fairgrounds.
There’s plenty of room to toss the bee around, set up an easel and do some painting, or spread out some blankets and open up umbrellas. Meanwhile, the trees and mountains that serve to fortify this 24 acre parcel of land, also help to add to the acoustics.
Sir Walford, Reggae Ambassador: You have these beautiful scenery and mountains, and when you listen to the music back there, the trees actually echo back to you.
Brian Sullivan : The first reggae fest took place here all the way back in 1985, and there was a little bit of a gap in time as the next one didn’t happen until 1997, but the festival had been running steady every year since then, up until the 20 and 21 festivals were canceled.
Ben and Steven Goldsher organized the most recent one in 2019, and it was their first time in doing so. And while they’re hoping that the learning curve is trending in a more positive financial direction this time, they see the bigger picture.
Steven Goldsher, Charlemont Reggae Fest: The business side of this is really tough. We lost a lot of money the first time we did it. This time we want to break even, and it’s really – this is really a festival about the local community.
There’s a tremendous local community of reggae musicians. They visit our Parks and Rec club all the time and they live here in Charlemont, and in Wendell, and in the Valley. And this is about local bands, and we have a couple of headliners too.
Brian Sullivan : The event ran from 1:30 in the afternoon until 8:00 that night, and we were there early enough before the grounds got too crowded. And that was handy when it came to avoiding lines at the vendors, of which there was no shortage.
Everything from cotton candy, vegan pizza, beer or some Filipino street food.
Thanks, can’t forget to support the local vendors. This event’s been going on for 25 years now and it’s funny because with a town that’s made up of more than 1200 people, it’s one of the few days out of the year that the population increases by about 500.
Those numbers eventually arrived as the day went on, which translated to more feet on the dance floor and more people feeling the connection to the sweet sounds being delivered by the musicians on stage.
Sir Walford: Good music stimulates the brain. It’s a wave. And if you can connect to the wave, you feel the energy of what the artist is trying to say. And once you connect, you know, you’re not the only human being feeling it.
Brian Sullivan : The Charlemont Reggae Fest has always been a one day endeavor, but due to its popularity, organizers Ben and Steven Goldsher are toying with the idea of making this a multiday event in the future. And the motivation to do so isn’t solely driven by the bottom line.
Ben Goldsher: The real reason we do this is for the love of the music and the love of the community around it.
I get people telling me all the time, thank you so much for what you’re doing, thank you for giving us this experience, and we’re – we’re all about putting on an experience, you know, creating a space for people to have feelings where they get to have fun or maybe they get to do something they’ve never done before, and we’re just trying to create that space for people to have a good time.