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Mini Woodstock on Lakeville's lake

LAKEVILLE — At last, the big motley-colored sign is on the Green by The White Hart and we know for certain that summer is here. Yes, it’s time for the annual Grove Festival of Project Troubador, this year on June 28, from 5 to 10 p.m.

The sign was late in appearing. Normally it creeps out onto the Green and the lawn at The Hotchkiss School’s four corners weeks before the actual festival, giving Northwest Corner music and dance fans plenty of time to prepare. More stringent sign regulations made it impossible.

But the sign is up. And after all, the Grove Festival has been held on the last Saturday of June every year for 19 years now. Organizers Eliot Osborn and Louise Lindemeyr might reasonably hope that the many fans of the fest have marked it on their calendars anyway.

This year, as is traditional, Osborn and Lindenmeyr and George Potts will perform onstage as The Joint Chiefs, playing songs of their own and covering classics by everyone from Joni Mitchell to the Beatles.

Three additional groups will perform, rounding out the annual assortment of exotic entertainment, which always (always) ends with very danceable tunes that get everyone in the audience (old and new, conservative and groovy) up on their feet and dancing in the dark.

Kicking off these performances will be the New World Ceili Band, which specializes in traditional Irish dance music.

Founded by Dave Paton of Sharon, the band includes polished musicians on traditional instruments such as fiddle, guitar, cittern, tenor banjo and vocals. There will be Irish stepdancing by Linnea Paton.

The Nai Ni Chen Dance Company will follow with colorful displays of Chinese calligraphy and dancing to traditional Chinese melodies. They  use such props as scarves, fans and shadows to create art that is larger than life.

All the other entertainment leads up to Rumbafrica, Congolese musicians who will undoubtedly get the audience up and dancing. Bandleader Tshibangu Kadima sings in multiple languages as traditional Congolese and African music is fused with exciting Cuban and South American sounds.

The Grove Festival is the annual American performance of Project Troubador, a group founded in 1978  by Osborn and Lindenmeyr. The group’s main purpose is to promote cultural understanding and appreciation through live performance. Project Troubador has visited many areas of the developing world and recruited talented musicians and dancers along the way.

The organization uses music and dance to bridge cultures and to teach people in developing countries about how to protect themselves from, for example, AIDS.

The annual Grove Festival gives Project Troubador an opportunity to put on a show for Lakeville residents,  many of whom are financial supporters of Troubador.

“For one night the community’s doors will swing open to take in the majesty of cultures other than their own,†said Osborn, who has just returned from a trip with the group to Turkmenistan and Morocco.

From festivals to mountaintops to even public town squares, Project Troubador performs around the globe. For more information call 860-435-0561 or log on to projecttroubador.org.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The event is not a fundraiser, rather a celebration of international music and artistic expression. The ticket price pays for transportation and costs for the entertainers.

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