Marlboro 2018

Thursday morning I headed for Marlboro, VT for the Marlboro Morris Ale. The last time the Binghamton Men were there was in 2004, and I didn’t go: I was stuck in Virginia, working at JLab. The last and only time I went as a participant was in 1990, I believe, as a musician with Thornden Morris. And I think I went there one year, maybe in 1989, as a spectator after the Brattleboro Dawn Dance. I don’t remember much from either trip.

I’m used to events that start earlier. I was very perplexed when I arrived at Marlboro College at 2 pm to find a big party tent set up in the soccer field… and no other tents, nor other people, except one guy just starting to put up his tent. Turns out I really was the first nonlocal on site. About 15 minutes later the second arrived, and it was BMM’s Bruce Orden. He came equipped with stakes and string, with which we marked out an enclave for BMM. Another 15 minutes or so later BMM’s Jim Moskin (well, he was Thames Valley most of the weekend, but he has a BMM kit) showed up. He’d arrived in the area the night before but was just then getting there to set up. Then not too long after, another car pulled in, and it was BMM’s Tom Keays. I was starting to suspect they’d canceled the ale and told everyone except BMM, who they planned to round up and shoot, but in fact other teams did arrive.

It was mostly a good weekend. I was in bed by about midnight every night, because I like sleeping. Saturday was hot but endurable; we all danced at the college in the morning and on Elliot Street in Brattleboro in the evening, and in between BMM toured with Orion Sword, Great Meadows, and On the Border at a nursing home, which was pretty good, and a Brattleboro parking lot, which was not as. Pub stop at Kipling’s. Our show dances were Bampton “Trunkles” and the “Binghamton Stick Dance”. For the latter, with the help of several ringers who are officially BMM away members, we had two sides up. Afterward we went to the New England House for a good though late dinner. We got back to camp in time for me to get in on the last two contradances being done in the dining hall. First contra I’ve done in a long time and I enjoyed it.

Overnight it rained and got cold, and the rain and chillier temperature continued all day Sunday. We got on buses and BMM toured with On the Border and Muddy River. First at the Whetstone Inn in Marlboro, for a very small but appreciative audience (the woman there always makes cakes for the dancers), then a pub stop at Rick’s, then another nursing home, and finally the massed dancing at Newfane where we did “Johnson the Butcher”. Back to camp for the feast. There were skits but Tom, Karen Koyanagi, and I had judiciously chosen the 10 to 11 pm time slot to staff “Rosie’s Pub” so we were spared that. We were also spared almost anyone looking for beer, but we entertained ourselves. I stayed another hour roughly, assisting some singing. The next morning I got up too early for breakfast even after I’d struck the tent, and set out for home, because I’d been out of cell phone range since Saturday afternoon and had stuff to deal with.

Other than the bad weather Sunday, it was a nice event. I saw and caught up with several people I haven’t seen in years including Martin and Nancy Barbour, Bob DuPre, Tim Radford, and Aldona Joseph. There was the usual sort of big ale stuff I can do without: three Winster Processionals (I did only the first, which was the slowest-travelling Winster I’ve ever been in, and the third, which was mercifullly short; I played the second), mass dances (I didn’t do any), Bonnie Green Garters (ditto), and morris teams doing overly complicated Cotswold and neo-border dances, some of which fell apart in embarrassing fashion. But several very nice dances too; some of Orion’s was about the best longsword I’ve ever seen, and the Marlboro Men did a kickass “Swaggering Boney” (Old Spot). Anyway, good time.


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