Hammonasset Festival Comes Alive With Native American Culture

hammonassetHammonasset Beach State Park will be filled with the sounds of drums and music, the sights of colorful wardrobe, ceremonial dance, turquoise jewelry and multitudes of crafts made from natural materials from Mother Earth. It’s just part of what you’ll experience at the Hammonasset Festival, October 3 and 4, an event sponsored by Liberty Bank to benefit the nonprofit Friends of Hammonasset.

You’ll also find exhibits from the Smithsonian institute’s National Museum of the American Indian, Yale Peabody Museum, Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Connecticut Science Center, The Sierra Club, Save the Sound Citizens for a Clean Hammonasset River and other historical and environmentally conscious organizations as the festival expands its Earth-friendly component.

“We have always thought of the earth as our mother and always think of the consequences of our actions,” explains event co-founder Dale Carson, a Madison resident who is of Abenaki descent and is renowned for her books, artwork and television appearances representing aspects of Native American life. “As a people, we are willing and able to share our knowledge of the natural world and how to live with it. Be kind to one another, share everything, teach your children all you can, respect everyone.” Carson hopes the Hammonasset Festival will energize the community about how we treat each other as neighbors and how we treat the land and our cherished shoreline.

The biennial Hammonasset Festival (spelled with two Ts to be true to the Native American spelling) will also feature reptile shows with rangers from Meigs Point Nature Center, talks about “Living with Coyotes” from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and demonstrations of falcons soaring through the sky. Eyes to the sky will also see spear-throwing competition as part of the Atlatl events. Atlatl refers to ancient hunting spears. Trout Unlimited will be helping anglers made their own fishing lures inside their tipi.

Those that have followed shoreline talent may know Nichole Frechette, a Madison native who made her mark on the country music scene in Nashville and will take the stage both days during the festival.

It’s two days packed with entertainment and education, rooted as a way to honor the people who lived here before, according to Carson. The bones of the Hammonasset people are still buried here today. From an archeological standpoint “this is considered a sacred place, and the spirit of the people who first lived here should be respected,” Carson added.

Carson’s event co-founder is Dr. Don Rankin, also a Madison resident, and a proponent of natural studies and Native American history. The two met through their mutual involvement in the Friends of Hammonasset, working to preserve and enrich the natural resources of the park, the shoreline and the surrounding area.

“This event is a celebration of human spirit. Education leads people to and appreciation and understanding, and that leads to respect … respect for our earth, our children, our elders. This is the essence of Native American culture,” said Rankin.

What: Hammonasset Festival

When: October 3-4, 10am-5pm both days, rain or shine

Where: Hammonasset Beach State Park at exit 62 off Interstate 95

Cost: $5 per person to benefit the Friends of Hammonasset, children 10 and under are admitted for free, parking and admission to the park are free, no pets please.

For more information: www.hammonassettfestival.com or 203.245.9192

FaceBook: Hammonasset Festival

2009 Hammonasset Festival Performers and Exhibitors:

Joseph FireCrow – Native American flute

Erin Meeches Native Nations Dance Troup and drumming

Dan Addi’s Black Bear Drum

World Atlatl Association – spear throwing competition and hunting weapons

Brian Bradley and his Falcon demonstrations

Meigs Point Nature Center – live reptile show with Ranger Russ Miller

Native Visions – Native American art from across the country

The Turtle Pit – Native American cooking

CT DEP Wildlife Division – Living With Coyotes

Trout Unlimited – how-to-make fishing lures

Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian

Domingo Talldog Monroe – wampum jewelry

Joseph James – wampum jewelry

Nicole Frechette – nationally recognized country singer from Madison, CT

Southern Exposure – Native American clothing, jewelry and furnishings

Pete Onofrio – musician

Barbara Hanson – crafts and handmade notepapers

Nelson Garcia – Native American jewelry

Terri Delahanty – Native American crafts

Ken Schaller – Native American crafts and carvings

Beth Stewart-Kelly – Native American crafts

Jeff Kalin – primitive technologist

Keiko Moreino – cornhusk dolls

Jerry Padulz – cornhusk dolls

Steppenwolf – gourds

Jeanne Kent – gourds

Peggy LaConte – storyteller

Dale Carson – Native American multimedia crafts

Annmarie Dina – nature themed jewelry

Sonya Avant – Native American foods

Sherry Pocknett – Native American foods

Janis Us – Native American beadwork jewelry

Elaine Tucker – Native American beadwork jewelry

Operation Music Aid – providing musical instruments to wounded veterans

Homes for Our Troops – building adapted homes for severely injured veterans

Sierra Club

Save the Sound/CT Fund for the Environment

Citizens for a Clean Hammonasset River

Habitat for Humanity

Institute for American Indian Studies

Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

Yale Peabody Museum

Connecticut State Museum of Natural History

Connecticut Science Center

Dinosaur State Park (Saturday only)

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

Friends of Connecticut Archeology (FOSA)

Changing Winds – Native American advocacy

A Place Called Hope

A Call to Care/Team Uganda

Rotary Club – Amber Alert

High Hopes – therapeutic riding

Shoreline Greenway Trail

Menunketuck Audubon Society

Northfordy Farm

Bayberry Farm

J.C. Growers

J.D. Pony Express (Saturday only)

Chris Jennings – photographs

Eric Hummel – hot dogs

Daniel Hand High School

Madison Foundation

Friends of Hammonasset

Liberty Bank

The Hammonassett Festival is sponsored by Liberty Bank.

Marcia Simon, based in Westbrook, is a writer and principal of MSE, a public relations company specializing in healthcare, technology, eco-friendly and lifestyle clients. She can reach her at 860.399.0191, [email protected] or


  1. pete

    This is going to be an excellent event for the entire family

  2. Spencer

    Wow! I bet this was amazing, it looks like there were so many talented performers and exhibitors. It must have been a great opportunity to watch dances, hear songs, and see the garments Native American’s wear. Maybe a descendant of Pocahontas was there!? She came from a Northeastern tribe : )

    Were any Iroquois there? Another famous Indian from this area was Squanto from the Patuxet tribe. Sadly his tribe is no longer together…

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