HOPFest to celebrate 50 years of art at the Hopkins Center

On July 20, the Hopkins Center will celebrate its 50th anniversary with “HOPFest,” an open-air celebration on the Dartmouth Green.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday and will last until Saturday evening. A wide assortment of bands, including Asphalt Orchestra, Filligar, Matuto, Pine Leaf Boys, David Wax Museum and Sergeant Garcia, will offer free performances on the Green throughout the festival.

“The whole idea behind HOPFest is that the Hop is a place that has so many pieces to it, and we do so many things for so many people college students, kindergarteners, retirees and members of the Upper Valley community,” Hop programming director Margaret Lawrence said.

To accommodate the large number of musical acts, two stages will be set up. King Arthur Flour Stage will feature most of the outside artists, while Baker Stage will feature more student groups. Moore Theater will also be used for a classical concert and film screening.

While the event is tailored to members of the Upper Valley community, Lawrence said she expects that people will come from throughout the greater Boston area since Filligar and David Wax Museum are bands with large followings.

Regardless of the number of people who do arrive in Hanover for HOPFest, preparations are in place. A parking shuttle will run continuously from Dewey Lot to the Hop, according to Lawrence. Additionally, approximately 100 “friends of the Hop” donors and other volunteers will be on hand to give directions and guide visitors, she said. Up to 5,000 visitors are expected to come to the festival over the course of two days.

“There’s been really intensive planning,” Lawrence said. “We’ve been trying to think of every possible scenario. The whole event has a lot of moving parts.”

Although the timing of the event occurs when the least number of students are typically on campus, summer is the ideal time to host an outdoor event due to Hanover’s unpredictable weather at other times of the year, she said. While using the Green does come with a risk of rain, Lawrence said the goal of the event is to make it as visible as possible.

“The purpose of putting performances out where people can see them is that people will collide with the arts, they’ll hear the music, they’ll see the performances, they’ll smell the food booths.” Lawrence said.

It is also a way to attract more student interest in the event.

“It’s hard to not go to the Green when you see so many people there.” 2014 Class Council president Chisom Obi-Okoye ’14 said.

Besides music, HOPFest will also feature numerous hands-on workshops and other interactive events such as “pop-up” Shakespeare, which will involve student groups performing scenes from Shakespeare plays in the middle of common areas or dining halls. Film and media studies professor Mary Flanagan and students of the digital arts department worked last term to create the “Tiltfactor Play Cube,” a mobile structure that will be stationed in front of Robinson Hall and feature video games.

The Class of 2014 will have its own art installation on the Green, according to Obi-Okoye. Wooden blocks painted with chalkboard paint and chalk, constructed by sophomore volunteers with help from staff at the woodworking shop, will be placed on the Green. Volunteer positions were open to all skill levels regardless of experience, according to Geanette Foster ’14, who helped build the art installation.

“At first, it was hard to build,” she said. “I’d never done woodshop before, and there’s a lot that you have to pay attention to, but the staff was really helpful.”

Visitors will have a chance to draw on and move the blocks to create their own artistic visions. At the end, participants will also have the chance to take a block home.

“I love the idea, and I think it could be a cool, new tradition.” Foster said.

The hands-on atmosphere of the festival will also be reflected in many of the workshop booths, staffed by both Dartmouth arts groups and arts groups from the Upper Valley area. Many of the booths will allow visitors to make a craft or learn new skills.

“It will be so much fun,” Obi-Okoye said. “There’ll be a ton of kids there, and it’s a really great chance to interact with the Upper Valley community, something that we don’t always get to do as college students.”

One of the most anticipated events is the “Great Dance-In,” which will take place at Baker Stage on Saturday at 4 p.m., according to Lawrence. Professional dancer Andrea Weber and saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom will lead students in creating and performing a dance inspired by cartoons drawn by Jules Feiffer.

The eclectic mix of activities is meant to inspire participation from as many people as possible, according to Lawrence.

“It’s not only going to represent the arts but will have hands-on activities for any age,” she said. “The inner child is alive and well.”

HOPFest took over a year to plan and is meant to coincide with Dartmouth’s Year of the Arts initiative, Lawrence said. While HOPFest is a singular event, the schedule for the year’s upcoming performances is already attracting attention from a wide audience of arts patrons.

“I think if we can get to the end of the 50th [anniversary] and made the arts even more vibrant, even more visible and accessible for people who’ve never been involved before, then we’ll have succeeded,” Lawrence said.

HOPFest’s location on the Green and high visibility may attract students who have not previously been involved with the arts on campus, according to Obi-Okoye.

“HOPFest will do a good job of getting students interested,” she said. “When we were freshmen, we had a huge orientation at the Hop, with an open house of all the workshops. Hopefully after this, it will give people a chance to get reoriented and more people will get involved.”

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