Kwabena Owusu, drums of Ghana
West African drummer
Saturday: 5:15 p.m. Children’s;
Sunday: 12:30 p.m. Children’s
Kwabena Owusu makes the traditional drums of Ghana, West Africa, which include the sogo, chilivo, skiddy and cagoun. In Ghana, drumming is accompanied by bells and rattles. Owusu learned how to play and make drums from elders in Ghana. He has lived in the United States since 1984. Over the years, he has taught drumming to preschool, secondary and college students in Maine. He also has performed at festivals in California, Texas and Tokyo. He is the founding leader of the Voudou Jazz ensemble.
The Forbes Flyers
Precision jump-rope team
Saturday: 12:45 p.m. Children’s, 2:15 p.m. Children’s, 4:30 p.m. Children’s
If you haven’t paid much attention to jump-rope lately, you’re in for a pretty big surprise. The thrilling speed, agility, endurance and creativity of today’s precision jump-ropers are impressive. The Forbes Flyers, a champion U.S. Amateur Jump Rope Federation team from Torrington, Conn., brings the skill and excitement of competitive precision jump-rope to this year’s festival.
Twelve team members, ranging in age from elementary school to college, will demonstrate single rope speed, long rope speed, double Dutch, single rope free-style and many other skills. Some test speed, some include two jumpers or two rope twirlers, and others involve the entire team. A particularly exciting event is the team show, in which the entire team participates in a free-style fashion and demonstrates all of the elements of jump-rope.
Physical education teacher, team coach and founder Janice Harrington created The Forbes Flyers in 1994 at Forbes Elementary School. The team has grown to include former pupils, now in middle school, high school and college; today, the team is 70 strong. The Forbes Flyers entered its first competition in 1997. For several years, members of the team have been grand national champions in the double Dutch speed event at the USAJRF championships held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The team finished 14th overall out of 54 teams at last year’s national competition. It has appeared in halftime shows for the University of Connecticut Huskies and the Boston Celtics, and members have been featured in competitions aired on ESPN.
Jump-rope may be one of the oldest forms of athletic play still practiced today. European explorers describe seeing people jumping vines for sport in native cultures throughout the world. Medieval artwork depicts children skipping rope down Europe’s cobblestone streets. In the United States, jump-rope has been popular since Colonial times.
The rhyme games that accompany jump-rope have roots in European and African games and songs as well as popular stories such as the Mother Goose rhymes. Over the years, these rhymes have passed from child to child, constantly changing to fit the times.
The advent of double Dutch (an activity in which two rope twirlers rotate two ropes in opposite directions around one or more jumpers in between them) in urban centers in the 1970s led to a resurgence of interest in jump-rope and the increasing formalization of the sport. American physical education teachers and gymnastics instructors noted the existence of the International Rope Skipping Organization and felt the need for a similar organization within the United States. In 1995, the USAJRF was founded as a nonprofit corporation dedicated to promotion of the sport of jump-rope. In the same year, the federation lobbied to make jump-rope an accepted member of the Amateur Athletic Union Family of Sports and to make jump-rope a category in the AAU Junior Olympics. The organization has established camps, workshops and competitions throughout the country. The USAJRF’s national tournament has been aired on ESPN since 1996.
The Smith Brothers
Music, song and stories from Maine and the Maritimes
Saturday: 3:15 p.m. Children’s,
Sunday: 2:45 p.m., Children’s.
The Smith Brothers from Industry, Maine, have performed throughout the state for the past two years, including the 2002 National Folk Festival, The Maine Festival, Weeks Mills in Music, Maine Pioneers of Country Music, and the East Sangerville Grange.
Jay Smith, 13, won his first fiddle contest at the age of 8 and has been performing for the past six years, including appearances on violin with the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra. Shane Smith, 11, plays outstanding rhythm guitar and picks the lead on several numbers. He has accompanied his brother for the past three years and also plays bass in Maine’s Cascade Brook School Orchestra.
Tony Sohns, “Bug Zoo”
Lively presentation with live bugs of all kinds
Saturday: 1:30 p.m. Children’s,
Sunday: 4:15 p.m. Children’s.
Tony Sohns is a natural history educator from Bucksport, Maine. He is on the summer education staff of the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor. He inspires people of all ages with his colorful presentation of live anthropoids – joint-legged creatures – ranging from hissing beetles to African millipedes. Sohns travels the country, finding and studying new critters and delighting and informing audiences with his programs and collections.