Fans arriving at Big Barrel early had a chance to enjoy the bolstering country music of Shakey Graves. These same fans also probably noticed the lady dressed in black, on stage doing hand signals.
This was Holly Maniatty doing her job. As a professional interpreter, her job on stage was to make sure hearing-impaired fans had a just as much fun as everyone else. But she doesn’t do it alone; she travels with her friend Jean Abbott.
Maniatty, who has been an interpreter for 15 years, has been doing interpretations at music concerts for 11 years. She said its fun but can be tedious at times.
“There’s a lot of work that goes beforehand,” she said. “We have to learn about the artists, the music, what the song is written about, when it was written, and then also the lyrics.”
Abbott, who has been an interpreter for 9 years, agrees communicating via sign language to a large audience, for a number of songs, isn’t easy.
“We research a lot before we get down here,” Abbott said. “We want to make sure that our deaf patrons are having as close to the same experience as all of the hearing patrons.”
Meanwhile, most of the fans who recovered from Saturday’s rain were looking forward to the headliners of Carrie Underwood and Merle Haggard. Others were just there for a good time.
“I’m here for a lot of fun, country music, and a little bit of beer,” said Kelly McCabe from Baltimore, Md.
Derek and Britney Smith from Willsboro, Pa were at Big Barrel celebrating their honeymoon. They were married May 16.
“We came to firefly two years ago and now we’re celebrating our honeymoon at the Big Barrel festival,” Britney said. The newlyweds didn’t have any favorite artist in mind to see. They were there just to have good time.
“We love all country music so we just wanted to come watch everyone.”
For any fans who enjoy giving back to the community, St. Judes Kids was there taking donations and raising awareness for St. Judes.
“We’ve had a really wonderful weekend and people are so supportive and generous,” said Pam Geiger, associate director of the Washington D.C. Office for the Mid-Atlantic Region of St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital.