June Jamboree at Woodstock Sanctuary!

valentine piglets

Jenny Brown and Doug Abel, co-founders of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, chatting with guests at the 2009 June Jamboree Jenny Brown, co-founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, with a Rooster

I have been friends with Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's founders Jenny Brown and Doug Abel since a bit before they started working on the sanctuary in 2004, and have been blessed to watch it grow into the wondrous hippy hipster refuge for rescued critters that it is today. It somehow still feels strange for me to go to the events at the farm when the animals we call people outnumber the people we call animals. The time I spend there photographing the animals is typically peaceful and meditative as I try to imagine the world through their eyes and understand who they are. There is plenty of commotion; grunting pigs, chickens and roosters chasing each other around squawking, goats bleating and maybe a cow's ruminating bellow sounding above the crowd. And of course there is Jenny Brown making her rounds chatting with the animals and orchestrating the day to day chores involved in running a farm animal sanctuary. Still, with the mountains all around and the immense importance of what is being done here, it feels somehow quiet and relaxed.

By contrast, the June Jamboree is an event bristling with families and activity, live music and amazing vegan food being served by celebrity chef Isa Moskowitz. There are lots of people I know, social responsibilities to attend to, foods to sample, pictures to take and potty breaks. For some reason I tend to spend less time with the animals when there is an event going on (except for the ones with opposable thumbs). It is heartwarming to see kids and animals bonding, and wondering if they will grow up to be compassionate and wise. I photograph these interactions because I know they will be used to bring people and donations to the farm, even though it feels a little intrusive sometimes. Usually I just put on a big lens and stay in the background, but sometimes I have to come in close with my wide angle to see what's up.

I had originally hoped to attend this event with the Vegan Bus, but as it turned out the bus was in the shop getting new brakes, and so my friend Meredith drove me down along with my friend Scott and her friend Wendy. It is fun to be in a car full of vegans and the two plus hour drive through the Berkshire Mountains and into the Catskills went quickly. It was Wendy and Meredith's first time visiting WFAS, and they were both moved by the experience. Scott seemed to enjoy himself as well, didn't you Scotty? I thought so.

Anyway, here are some photos of the trip, hope you enjoy them and will be encouraged to visit, donate, volunteer, or send some love.

See all of the photos on my flickr account.

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