The Old Songs Festival Fringe

June 2006 marked the third annual gathering of certifiable fringe elements at the Old Songs festival in Altamont, NY. We take group camping to splendid excess, this year with a 10x20' Renaissance-style pavilion, courtesy of SCA actor and blacksmith Carl West. We enjoy our elegant and shady "living room" for sharing meals and relaxing between workshops, but its primary purpose (besides announcing our presence to the camp at large) is to host a full-service High Tea.

We serve 15-30 invited guests, complete with china teacups and saucers, loose tea in teapots, linens & silver, proper cream and lump sugar, and a full menu of sweets and savories. This year featured Earl Grey and Darjeeling, cranberry-orange and cinnamon chip scones, cucumber-mint and salmon tea sandwiches on homemade tea bread, "wrye smiles" (stuffed rye crescent rolls), cookies and bars galore, and strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with whipped cream.

Last year's heat wave inspired a Days of the Raj theme, which was made complete this season with the contribution of a collapsible palm-leaf punkah from IKEA. Our most elegantly dressed coolies (April Grant and Angela Kessler) performed their punkah-wallah duties in long gloves and proper conehead coolie hats, acquired at the Festival.

Tea-wallah David Kessler might have found his duties eased by a high-heat propane burner donated by Jake the Master Cook, whose outdoor catering (dinner for 60 in the lower field) puts our modest efforts to shame. We might have poured the tea on time had we closed the propane stopcocks all the way, but still, it was 3 am when Jake made the loan...and in the event, Bill Lehrman's family was kind enough to produce a Coleman stove.

We look forward to even better logistics for Old Songs High Tea 2007.

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