BREVARD COUNTY — Each fall, the Native Rhythms Festival returns to Wickham Park as part of an ongoing historic and moving event to better educate the public during Native American Heritage Month.
The Indian River Flute Circle and Native Heritage Gathering, Inc. will present award-winning performers, handcrafted items and a series of workshops during the Native Rhythms Festival.
Now in its 11th year, the festival will return for the weekend of Nov. 8-10 at Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Admittance to the Native Rhythms Festival is free.
“It’s important that people know the true history of Native Americans and have a respect and an understanding and an enjoyment of it,” said Martha Pessaro, event chair, finance and performer coordinator for the festival.
Patrons can experience the sights and sounds of Native Americans culture through the variety of flute makers, arts and crafts, and performers who take to the stage.
Headlining performers will include Randy Granger, Shelley Morningsong & Fabian Fontenelle, Billy Whitefox, Hawk Henries, Jonny Lipford, Ed WindDancer and more.
These performers are noted for their award-winning or nominated talent among the Grammy’s, Nammy’s (Native American music awards), and Indian Summer Music Award.
Cody Boettner, a hoop dancer from South Daytona, will also be joining the set of performers over the weekend. Mr. Boettner was awarded the title of World Champion this year during the 29th Annual Heard Museum Hoop Dance Championship in Arizona.
“The music is absolutely beautiful, the dancing is enormously important and heart-moving for anyone that is there who partakes in our friendship dance,” Ms. Pessaro said.
“You go away feeling quite a bit more connected with not only your fellow people but the earth itself,” she continued. “We’d like to express that. It’s one day a year but it’s our foot in the door to say ‘hello, we’re still here and we still have our culture going on.’”
During the weekend, three competitions will take place for Flute Makers’ Competition, Paula Ellis Memorial Flute Players’ Competition and Artists’ Competition.
Registration forms can be found online by visiting the “Competitions” page on the Native Rhythms Festival website.
A list of workshops is available online, as well as during the event, to demonstrate an introduction to Native American style flute music, beading, weaving, basketry, and more. Some workshops require a fee to participate, while other workshops are free.
“We’re trying something a little different this year as an organic thing right on site, ‘So You Want to Learn How to Play the Flute,’” Ms. Pessaro said. “It’s part of our workshop series. Anybody that’s walking by and has heard the music on stage can then say, ‘I wonder if I could possibly ever play like that.’ This will provide a lot of our flute makers to have a bigger market place.”
The festival will also feature exhibitors with a passion for conservation and awareness, including the Brevard Backyard Beekeepers, Florida Bat Conservancy, Imagine Our Florida, Inc., Marine Resources Council and the Zonta Club of Melbourne.
For more information, visit www.nativerhythmsfestival.com.