Westfield Craft Festival Kickoff

John “Doc” Hamels and Bill Drellow, Doc and Bill, entertained area residents during the first day of YWCA’s Westfield Arts and Crafts Festival on Friday afternoon.

Doc and Bill are regulars at the festival, and have helped kickoff the event for the past two years. According to Drellow, he and Hamels have a mission for giving back to the community, and the festival is one of the performances they do free-of-charge.

“We do this show pro bono because the YWCA does such a fabulous job here in Westfield,” said Drellow. “We really enjoy coming out and supporting community-based activities, so that’s why we like coming back here every year.”

“It’s like the reversal of a fish bowl,” added Hamels. “The festival is the fish bowl, we’re right in the middle of it, and everybody is swimming around us. You’ve got people stopping to clap, give a thumbs up, sing along or do a two-step. This is summertime, this is America, this is fun, and this is what it’s all about. Out here you get to see your neighbors, have a little food, buy a few things – to play summertime gig is a lot of fun.”

For the festival audience, Doc and Bill performed a blend of Irish and American folk songs. In particular, the duo performed a rendition of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Garden Song,” Celtic and Irish classics such as: “The Wild Rover,” “Nancy Whiskey,” “Red Haired Mary,” and “Whiskey in the Jar.”

“Most of our music is music that was popular in the 1960s because we do Clancy Brothers songs and they became popular in America in the 1960s,” said Drellow. “We also do songs by The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and groups like that. We find that people, regardless of what generation they are in, really relate to the music – it’s really a lot of fun.”

Doc and Bill’s next performance is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Corner Coffeehouse in Frewsburg. For more information, visit facebook.com/DocAndBill.

According to Katie Smith, YWCA executive director, it was great to have Doc and Bill back because they provide familiar music that the festival-goers enjoy.

“Their ability to do crowd-pleasing music that appeals to all ages adds a nice ‘umph’ to the festival,” said Smith.

The festival has been operating for 41 years, and occurs the last weekend of every July. It acts as a primary fundraiser for the YWCA childcare programs, and according to Smith, covers a large percentage of the organizations operating costs.

The festival’s 150 vendors open today at 9 a.m., and will remain open until 5 p.m. The festival will also feature Steve Eng and SUNY Fredonia’s New Horizons Band during the afternoon.

The event is located at Moore Park in Westfield. Free parking and shuttle service are available at the Theater Motel, Route 20 in Westfield. For more information call 326-2011 or visit ywcawestfield.org.