Angus Gillespie bids farewell as director of the NJ Folks Competition in New Brunswick – Asbury Park Press



Canines got here from throughout to compete within the canine present on the 2018 Rutgers Day.
Nick Muscavage, @nmuscavage

Angus Gillespie constructed it, and so they got here.

Now, Gillespie, a professor of American Research at Rutgers College, who based the hit New Jersey Folks Competition in 1975, is stepping down because the director of the fest because it marks its 45th anniversary Saturday, April 27, on the grounds of the Eagleton Institute on the Douglass Campus at Rutgers College in New Brunswick.

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The New Jersey Folks Competition in 2016. (Picture: Mark R. Sullivan/Workers Picture)

Greater than 10,000 attended the primary fest, and since then 15,000 have attended annually in what’s grew to become a Central Jersey ceremony of spring.

“It was extremely profitable from the start, however I didn’t essentially know what I used to be doing,” Gillespie stated. “It was a pleasant spring day and the scholars poured of out their dorms straight to the New Jersey Folks Competition. We didn’t begin small and develop into one thing massive. We began massive and stayed massive.”

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With a low-tech, home-spun folkie vibe.

Over time attendees have skilled demonstrations on the making of Russian borscht and beet soup, or a craftsmen from the Jersey Shore making wood surfboards, together with the music, meals and extra.


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Kathy DeAngelo, a pupil, was the primary music director.

“I used to be working the Mine Avenue Coffeehouse (previously in New Brunswick), reaching out to lot of individuals in his courses and he approached me,” DeAngelo stated. “He advised me about his thought for having the folks competition and he needed me for my expertise from Mine Avenue.”

“In our wildest goals we have been grateful for somewhat crowd, however the crowd that confirmed up that morning, have been shocked.”

The close by Prepare dinner Faculty Ag Discipline Day takes place concurrently, and there you will get the eyeful of Prepare dinner’s many critters, together with horses, pigs, cows and sheep. It’s all develop into part of Rutgers Day, a campus-wide open home that options occasions, performances and demonstrations, that additionally takes place on Saturday.

Every year, the Folks Fest highlights the cultural traditions of a special Jersey ethnic teams. This yr, it’s a “biggest hits” of the final 4 years.

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“We prefer to seduce the passive competition goer into studying one thing,” Gillespie stated. “We attempt to sugar-coat the training expertise to make it as painless as potential.”

Because the standing of the folks competition has grown, so has the profile of Gillespie. He based the Night of Gospel Choirs live performance, for a few years on the college’s Voorhees Chapel on Douglass Faculty. He has written a number of books, acquired quite a few awards and guest-lectured world wide.

Angus Gillespie. Rutgers College (Picture: Nick Romanenko, Rutgers College)

Following the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001, Gillespie was a relentless – and reassuring – presence on TV, explaining the historical past and significance of the Twin Towers. He’s the creator of the 1999 e-book “Twin Towers: The Lifetime of New York Metropolis’s World Commerce Middle.” 

This yr’s performers embody Spook Helpful, Roger Deitz, the piping traditions of Frank Watson, Pete McDonough, the Subsequent Technology of Conventional Irish Music, Dan O’Dea and Eagle Ridge, Stephen Sanfilippo, Bob Wright and Harbortown, Amir Vahab and Chief Vincent Mann of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation.

But, Gillespie appears to be most happy with the scholars who’ve helped run the fest over the  final 45 years.  “Folks Competition Administration” will get you three credit and expertise on a big-time fest.

“So many individuals I do know after school have used that have as a stepping stone to a profession after school,” stated DeAngelo, the director of the Somerset Folks Harp Competition in Parsippany. “Myself included.”

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The New Jersey Folks Competition at Rutgers College is a magnet for college students and the encircling communities at massive. (Picture: FILE PHOTO)

Gillespie will proceed to show at Rutgers. The competition returns subsequent yr below new management.

“For me, it’s a troublesome resolution,” stated Gillespie, 77, of East Brunswick. “I’ve been doing the Folks Competition for 45 years. I really like doing the Folks Competition. I benefit from the job however I’m not immortal. It appeared to be the smart factor to indicate them the ropes and hand it off.”

Chris Jordan:; Twitter: @chrisfhjordan


When: 10 a.m. to six p.m., Saturday, April 27 (rain or shine)

The place: Eagleton Institute Grounds, Douglass Campus, Rutgers College, George Avenue and Ryders Lane, New Brunswick

Admission: Free


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