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A Place Where Dreams Are Born

It was the summer of '81. The weather had been hot and dry for two weeks. The Papers had reported an eclipse of the moon expected that night, and we decided that though we needed to be "responsible" for the weekend, Thursday was our day to party.

We had gathered at the site used by the S.C.A. (Society for Creative Anachronism) for the Pensic War, Coopers' Lake, and camped on a rise we renamed Chameleon Hill. We circled our tents and prepared for the first Starwood festival.

Oh, we had all worked on events before, with youth groups, the Hillel House, and the S.C.A.; and our band, Chameleon had performed at street fairs and coffee houses, but this was the first time it was all our own show. With a roster including Jim Alan and Selena Fox from Circle, Dr. Ray Buckland, Bill Eichman, Eric Raymond, Mike Shoemaker, Dr. Bryan Grotte, and S.C.A. Demo group and an electronic/percussive band called The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria, (A.I.S.B.) we set out to run the first interface festival between the New Age Movement/Futurism and the Magickal Movement/Medievalism.

That night was the first omen of the new energy we had invoked. I had recently bought a hand-carved Nepalese drum, two friends had brought a Bodhran and a Dumbek, and the A.I.S.B. had several percussive items. Add flutes, a sistrum and voice and we had our very first spontaneous Starwood Drum Jam, under a full lunar eclipse, with the sound of 18-wheelers speeding by bouncing off the Pennsylvania hills.


The fourth of July had been rainy, and a load of firewood and felled branches meant for a bonfire lay dry and unused in a small valley nearby. We asked the Coopers to sell it, and they traded it for some work to tear down a ruined fence. We add the 18 foot planks upright to the pile Tee Pee style, not quite meeting at the top. Saturday night we lit the first Starwood Bonfire and drummed and chanted around it. When the fire peaked, a twenty foot tongue of flame shot out the top, sending us whooping and cheering in an expanding ring away from the blast of heat, under a full moon shining blue through the rising wood smoke.

That first Starwood was a weekend event, with about 185 people, 20 classes, a movie, a concert, and what we billed as a "bon-fire".

Since then we've had 4 Starwoods at Devils Den Park near New Philadelphia, Ohio (run by Whispering Winds Nudist Camp), where we set off fireworks and ran elemental rituals in a cavern with a waterfall across its mouth for an audience of perhaps 315. Twice we held Starwood at Bear Creek in Canton, Ohio, with its Western Steak House (slabs of meat up to 6 pounds!) and a wooden stage area usually used for tractor pulls, and our attendance grew to 400. At Echo Hills in Logan, Ohio we found home for 2 years in the rough forest adjacent to Wayne State Park, with a nice A-frame hall and a beautiful (and dangerous) series of streams and pools, water cut into the raw rock. Our audience began to grow by 100 each year.

In those years the program had grown to 4 and 5 and 6 days, and cross-scheduling and increased revenue permitted bigger name speakers and acts, multi-media shows and full sized musical groups with a more substantial sound system.

In the seven years we've been at Brushwood, we've maintained our position as America's biggest and best festival of diversity. With over 120 classes and rituals, 15 musical and/or theatrical acts, and a full program of youth activities. Starwood remains a rising star in a forest of festivals, the scale against which others are measured.

The future holds nothing but new and exciting adventures. C'mon along!

Ad Astra the Hard Way,

Jeff Rosenbaum