Tanglewood's Family Fun Fest draws throusands

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LENOX — Frisbees flew, enough instruments to fill several orchestras sounded, people danced, sung, cooked, acted.

More than 2,000 — including boatloads of youngsters — flooded Tanglewood's fifth annual "Family Fun Fest" on Friday, breaking an attendance record.

Families participated in a scavenger hunt all over the grounds, enjoyed face painting, decorated dinosaur masks, played windwood, string and percussive instruments, prepared yogurt sundaes and watched actors act, musicians play and dancers dance. And it was all free of charge.

"We really want to demystify Tanglewood," Nina Jung, Boston Symphony Orchestra director of board, donor and volunteer engagement said. "Sometimes it can seem imposing — a big organization, classical music. We really want this event to show people this is a community place."

Families scampered around the lawns, playing sports or toss with the white, ring-style discs Tanglewood was giving out, which became ubiquitous, and enjoying picnics.

There were eight activity spots along the route of the scavenger hunt, which spanned the entire length of the Tanglewood grounds. More than 100 volunteers worked the event, making the proceedings possible.

Young people also performed.

Julie Monteleon, 14, of Berkshire Music School, performed an original song on piano in one of the organization's performance spaces, garnering applause.

"It was really an honor to get to perform at a place like Tanglewood, especially in front of all these people," Monteleon said.

After her performance, Monteleon found herself tailed by a group of pint-size admirers — her first fan group, little kids asking for autographs.

"It was so cute; they were like, three-year-olds," she said. "It was an exciting experience. I've never signed autographs before."

Next on stage, demonstrating the breadth of different performers, was Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' dysFUNKcrew, a hip-hop dance troupe.

They riled up the audience, dancing to tunes from the Backstreet Boys to Bell Biv DeVoe, then invited a few dozen kids on stage to try to bust their own moves.

"I love how Tanglewood is reaching out to the community, putting itself out there," said Jamal Ahamad, the group's choreographer and multimedia designer. "This is a cornerstone of the Berkshires."

He added, "We just like being on stage, period. We started off just performing in streets or next to band equipment. This is actually one of the bigger stages we've been on."

During Friday's events, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was on-site rehearsing for "Prairie Home Companion," which will broadcast here today over public radio for the last time with retiring host Garrison Keillor.

Jung said roughly 50 percent of the people who attend the annual event have never visited the Tanglewood grounds.

"We want them to come back," Jung said.

She added, "Last year, we had one of our volunteers bring their grandson to play the violin, and he's now been in intensive violin lessons since then," Jung said. "We couldn't ask for a better result."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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