Spring marks the time for the annual CAMP Rehoboth Women’s FEST. Celebrating its 16th year, Women’s FEST offers dance parties, concerts, social activities, walking tours and much more. There will be plenty of big name performers and entertainers during the FEST, April 7 – 10, 2016.
Women’s FEST began with a small group of women who approached CAMP Rehoboth about holding a one-day conference. Though small, the event was a huge success. Thanks to a committed group of volunteers, the festival has now evolved into a four-day event bringing out hundreds of women from the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. FEST is short for “Fun, Entertainment, Spring, and Tradition”. The organizers take pride in including these elements every year.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday, April 7 with a “Welcome Dance Party” at Atlantic Sands Hotel Ballroom. The party includes music by Viki Dee and a photo booth by Fortier Photography. The weekend ends on Sunday, April 10 with the 6th Annual Broadwalk on the Boardwalk and a Women’s FEST Sunday Brunch at Lula Brazil.
This year, the festival is jam packed with a diverse amount of activities for any FEST goer. And, for the die-hard FEST fans, the best way to get exclusive access is through a FEST Pass. For $70, the pass includes access to Women’s FEST workshops, shows, special events, and early headliner seating. This includes early seating for the Keynote address by Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority Foundation and early seating for the Emily Saliers concert.
On Friday and Saturday, Atlantic Sands Hotel will play host to several workshops from lesbian dating to genealogy. Mary Brett, leader of CAMP Rehoboth’s coffee talk program will lead “Lesbian Dating in the Real World” with tips and fun facts about the challenges of contemporary dating life. Greer Maneval will show FEST goers how to identify and locate women in your family tree.
Other notable workshops include: What’s So Funny about Advocating for Lesbian Health, LesBe Real Radio on Relationships, and FISH! Philosophy, just to name a few.
The heartbeat of Women’s FEST circles around the shows, concerts, and performances. Included on this list are also non-entertainers. This year, special guests will include founder of Olivia Travel Judy Dlugacz and Secretary General of Council of Women World Leaders, Laura Liswood.
The entertainment has a little something for everyone. Emily Saliers from the Indigo Girls will headline the weekend with a Friday and Saturday night concert. The Girlfriends will be in concert at CAMP Rehoboth on April 8. Poppy Champlin and Kelli Dunham will be bringing comedy to the festival with Champlin performing both Friday and Saturday night. Other entertainers include Viki Dee, Julie Felix, Angie Haze, Fay Jacobs, and DJ Nan.
Most would agree that Emily Saliers needs no introduction. She is an American singer-songwriter making up half of the group Indigo Girls, with Amy Ray. She plays lead guitar as well as banjo, piano, mandolin, ukulele, and bouzouki.
The Indigo Girls started making music together in 1985 and show no signs of slowing down. The duo boasts 12 original studio albums, three live records, and a Christmas album, along with several Grammy nominations, awards, and gold and platinum certifications. Their legacy speaks for itself.
Saliers says that she hears from fans after shows about how the Indigo Girls’ music has been with them throughout their life and major milestones.
The Indigo Girls’ most recent album One Lost Day was released last year, and Saliers describes it as a travelogue. She and Ray went to music producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin to develop something new and different. According to Saliers, Hamlin “created a good landscape for the vibe of the record.”
Now, Saliers is focusing on her solo music. Not only will this be Saliers first time at Women’s FEST, but her headlining performance will officially be her first time performing as a solo artist. She’ll be playing new material, as well as popular Indigo Girls songs.</P
Later this year, Saliers will be recording her new solo album with music producer Lyris Hung (who will also be in attendance at Women’s FEST). Also, the Indigo Girls have been touring with several symphonies in North America, so they are now looking forward to producing a symphony album together.
Leading up to April, Saliers has been extremely focused on her Women’s FEST concert, but afterwards she looks forward to enjoying Rehoboth Beach with her wife Tristin Chipman and daughter Cleo.
“I’m very grateful to be coming [to Rehoboth]. I’m grateful to be in the company of women,” says Saliers. “We owe so much to the queer community. It’s fitting to launch this solo career in a space of queer women.”
National comedian Poppy Champlin will return for a second year with her hilarious stand-up comedy. Champlin has appeared on Showtime, Logo, Oprah, HBO, and several Olivia cruises. More recently she has been making a splash with her “Queer Queens of Qomedy” tour. Champlin and her other comedy pals played a sold out show at last year’s Women’s FEST. And, Champlin assures that this year’s show will be new and fresh. She always goes back to re-read previous sets to make sure she doesn’t repeat the same jokes or songs.
In addition to Champlin’s comedy shows, she will be leading a comedy workshop called “Stand Up For Yourself”. She’ll be sharing her secrets and coaching aspiring comics.
“I am looking forward to teaching my comedy class. I know you can’t teach someone to be funny in an hour or two, but there are some people that are already funny and we can refine their jokes and make them ready to open for me the following night,” says Champlin.
For singer and songwriter Angie Haze, this will be her first trip to Rehoboth Beach, DE. “I’ve never played an all women’s festival. That’s a big deal to me,” says Haze. “I like the whole idea of women empowerment. Being a part of something like that is very honoring.”
Haze describes her music as gypsy music. Her Italian roots from Calabria mixed in with her traveling lifestyle contributes to the eclectic culture of her sound. Thanks to her talent of knowing how to play by ear, she taught herself how to play guitar at 15 years old.
Haze looks forward to connecting to the Women’s FEST crowd through her music. Though sometimes she incorporates different musicians in her sets, this weekend she will be playing solo in what she describes as “a musician’s workout class.”
“A full connection is everything. For me, I’m putting myself out there and being vulnerable. I believe in the necessity of strength and vulnerability through art,” explains Haze. “If I can connect with people and be authentic that’s the whole point. I do this not to gain followers, but to inspire more leaders.”
With discounts around town in many restaurants and stores, for those attending the FEST, this is great time to check out Rehoboth and support the LGBTQ community. To review the FEST, check out the social calendar in this issue of Tagg Rehoboth.
And if you want to keep the CAMP Rehoboth spirit going, the organization is planning a special CAMP Cruise February 10 – 25, 2017. The trip will take sail on the first class Celebrity’s Millennium and travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. For more information, visit www.camprehoboth.com.