The atmosphere at Old Songs resembles that of the 1960s and early 1970s folk festivals, Mock said, making it unique in an age when most festivals have become commercial and performer-oriented.
"It becomes a kind of three-day village," Mock said. "A very friendly community is formed."
Visitors are welcome to camp at the fairgrounds, where plenty of food and late-night dancing keep everyone entertained. Fiddle lessons, a puppet theater and other activities for children make for a family-friendly weekend.
"We have a lot of kids who've grown up with the festival, and they come back," said Spence. "I think it's just one big package with one big bow on it."
The festival began in 1981, after Spence and her husband, Bill, had been involved with another folk festival in the area. Spence is not a musician, but she enjoys folk music and has a knack for organizing various events.
In addition to the Old Songs festival, the nonprofit serves 8,000 people a year, offering classes, concerts and other activities. Spence expects about 4,000 people this weekend, a fourth of whom will overnight at the fairgrounds. Visitors come from all over the East Coast, she said.
"This music is not commercial so we don't get the big crowd that follows pop music or rock music," Spence said. "A lot of people who come are people who like to learn and share music with other people."
The Old Songs Festival will take place Friday, June 22 through Sunday, June 24 at the Altamont Fairgrounds, located on Route 146 in Altamont. Tickets are $30 for Friday night and Sunday, and $50 for Saturday (visitors who leave by 7 p.m. on Saturday will receive a $25 refund). Student tickets are $20 per day; children under 12 are free. For information, contact Old Songs at 765-2815 or visit www.oldsongs.org.""