"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" - Attributed (erroneously) to Dr. Seuss.
The e-mail landed in inboxes early Saturday morning:
Dear kind Kindie people,
After much deliberation, we have decided that we will no longer continue KindieFest.
There were a few more words, but no details on why KindieFest, the annual family music conference, was ending, only that the four conference producers, Bill Childs, Stephanie Mayers, Tor Hyams, and Mona Kayhan, would all continue to have "active roles in the family music scene" and that the KindieFest e-mail list would go to each of them.
Reaction from the kindie world on that 21st century bulletin board -- Facebook -- was swift and a little mournful:
- Out With the Kids: "Damn, Kindiefest has bit the dust. Thanks for the memories."
- Mindy Thomas: "Kindiefest, you took an industry, and made it a family."
- Sugar Free Allstars: "Oh no, KindieFest is done, over, no more?? It was like summer camp where we got to see all our family music friends!"
And that was just a sampling. Many posts went on to thank the four head honchos for their efforts in putting together the conferences.
No doubt that putting on Kindiefest was a lot of work -- months of prior planning and relatively little sleep during the actual weekend. None of this was made easier, I'm sure, by the scattered geographical locations of the producers. And whenever I saw them in Brooklyn for the conference, be it this year or in prior years, it was never entirely clear to me that they were having lots of fun, nor were they using $100 bills as Kleenex.
What started out as a bunch of musicians playing in Audra Tsanos' place in Brooklyn (which ended up happening at a local performance venue because the RSVP list became way too large) became the Stinkfest conference (sorry, guys, it'll cost you $2,195 to get that domain name back) in 2009, then KindieFest for the next 4 years. This past year, they ended up at the freakin' Brooklyn Academy of Music. That is some progression.
I can't speak for the musicians who attended and performed as to whether they found it useful (my sense is that they did, generally speaking, and the Facebook posts suggest that, though). I can only speak for myself as one of those "interested" folks who attended all five years of the actual conference.
Each of those five weekends was an opportunity for me to connect with people who felt that same need to celebrate music and families. The connection could not have happened online -- it could only have happened in person, and by creating the gravitational field that pulled disparate musicians together, KindieFest created its own solar system, bigger stars, smaller planets, and interactions that might never have happened without that push. That went not only for musicians but also for the rest of us. I have friendships that I would not have were it not for attending KindieFest and I think about this kids music world in different ways thanks to my interactions there.
Listing personal memories from the conference would be indulgent and confusing to you, dear reader, so here are a few favorite Kindiefest-related posts of mine:
- $9.99: Kindie Music Videos in the Age of YouTube: If this was going to be my final contribution to KindieFest, I'm happy with the way this video presentation turned out (2013)
- Kindiefest, Schmindiefest: suggestions for Kindiefest alternatives (2012)
- The Big Picture: competition within a collaborative community (2011)
- Kindiefest 2011 Artist Showcase: Featuring a set from Shine and the Moonbeams, the second greatest Kindiefest performance and definitely the one that most took the crowd by utter (and delighted) surprise (2011)
- Own Your [Stuff]: This might have been my very favorite KindieFest. Can't put my finger on it, but it was the year I thought everything really started to click in the kindie world. (2010)
- Justin Roberts at Kindiefest 2010: The single greatest Kindiefest performance (2010)
- Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem at Kindiefest 2010: The third greatest Kindiefest performance, a performance which totally won me over (2010)
- My Three Favorite Lines from StinkFest 2009: Four years later, those three quotations are still incredibly relevant today (2009)
It is clear that KindieFest is not the end, but rather the start of another chapter. The Children's Music Network continues to host an annual conference, of course, and I think that other events will come to take KindieFest's place. More importantly perhaps, one of KindieFest's enduring lessons is that in this new kindie world, it's up to you to write that new chapter.
Thank you Bill, Tor, Stephanie, and Mona for the memories and the work. I will miss KindieFest, but I will see you on down the line.