It’s been a whirlwind ride for those of us here at the Folklife Program over the past month! Whether it was being part of a conference panel, or working at the World Equestrian Games, we’ve been running what feels like a mile a minute.
Now, to those outside of Kentucky or the equestrian world, the WEG excitement may raise a few eyebrows. I can only claim nominal interest in horses (I admit, they’re beautiful and their musculature is intriguing to draw), but being a resident of Kentucky, I’d heard about the games from the moment I drove over the state line. Seriously, we have a big sign proclaiming that we were the home of the 2010 games as you cross the state border!
Ironically, my experience at WEG didn’t include much by way of horses. Instead, I worked in the Kentucky Experience portion, acting as logistical support with the Kentucky Arts Council. Throughout the Games, we had a steady run of performances highlighting Kentucky’s wonderful music scene (four a day or more). Every kind of style from choral groups right on to jazz took the stage to show the world what wonderfully talented people we have here in Kentucky. In fact, go check out the Kentucky Arts Council's Facebook page to see the lineups we had daily!
I heard a lot of people, with a lot of different accents, say that second to the Games portion, experiencing Kentucky’s music was one of their favorites. Of course, my favorite portion was the last day of the games when I could get a good glimpse of all the people who came for the closing ceremonies. Not to be missed (literally, they were all wearing bright orange! Google "Dutch Fans at World Equestrian Games" and you'll see some good examples) were the Dutch celebrants, who seemed to be in good spirits despite the vandalism of the Dutch carriage shortly before an event. It could have been because they went on to win the Team Gold in Dressage.
The folklorist in me really enjoyed the interaction between so many cultures—after all, it’s not often you hear so many Australian accents on a bus through Lexington in one day! While I won’t be going to Normandy for the next bunch of the Games in 2014, I feel this was a really interesting experience in the aesthetics of the equestrian world…especially for an outsider such as myself!
Image 1: Courtesy of Alltech
Image 2: The James Family Band performs at the Kentucky Experience, Courtesy of the Kentucky Arts Council