By Alicia Dziak
If you’re a regular at Allegany State Park (ASP) during the summer months, you’ve probably noticed that “Artist in Residence” has been popping up on the weekly program schedule. What this means is that a musical artist resides in the park for a week and performs concerts throughout the park during his or her stay.
Dan Duggan is considered by many to be the “father” of the Artist in Residence program.
“I don’t know the exact year, but I believe it was around 1980-81, Mike Kelley was the park commissioner,” Duggan explained. “Our good friend Tom Stocky, a wonderful banjo and guitar player, had a job as the Chautauqua County troubadour, and was hired to go to the park for a two week period to do a few concerts and campfire programs. At the time, Tom was sick with leukemia, so my friend John Kirk and I went to the park with Tom and helped him with concerts.
“The first year, we did concerts mainly on the Red House side of the park, and the Pitt cabin was where we all stayed. That year, Tom passed away and the next year, John and I came to the park for several weeks.”
Originally, Duggan said, “we did a campfire at one of the cabin trails each night and the week would culminate with a concert inside the Administration building. We would go to a given trail late in the afternoon and go door-to-door handing out flyers about that evening’s program at their trail. We actually spent an entire summer one year doing the program. We also did country dances on the lawn of the Administration building on Tuesday nights and campfire sings during the week with a Friday night concert at the Administration building.”
Duggan went on to note that, “As the program progressed, other artists were brought in and I would spend two weeks at the park, usually at the end of August each summer. The program continued to grow in popularity and eventually the Quaker side of the park was included with a program at the Amphitheater. The original concept was a much more intimate gathering designed specifically for a given trail each night with a big concert at the end of the week. In fact, we also did programs at Long Point State Park, which is on Chautauqua Lake, as part of the Residency.”
Duggan recalled that in those early years, the Pitt cabin also was where the naturalists would work and that the crew would go there each week to create the schedule.
“I have been to the park to perform for the Artist in Residence program every summer for a least a week, with the exception of the summer I finished cancer treatments and this summer due to a scheduling conflict,” Duggan said. “There have been many changes to the program with different commissioners and folks who wrote the grant and set up the program, but the basic integrity of the program has remained intact. Today the program is primarily a concert-based program with concerts alternating between the Red House and the Quaker side.”
These days, the program runs throughout peak season, July 4- Aug. 26. The Artists in Residence still stay in the park and play a series of five, one-hour concerts that rotate between the Red House and Quaker areas in locations that include the Quaker Amphitheater, Red House Beach House and Red House Administration Building lawn.
This summer’s artists in residence have included Panfils, Sunset Bluegrass Band, Sean Patrick McGraw, Jamie Haight, Ken Hardley, Kevin McCarthy and Dave Stayner. The last Artist in Residence of the season is Davis & Eng, who will be performing the final concert of their stay this Friday, Aug. 26.