In March, more than 250 ringers met together in South Bend, IN for Ringin’ the Irish, our Area 5 Spring Festival of 2023. Stephanie Rhoades, guest conductor, led the massed ringers through engaging new selections and old favorites from Patrick Meyer, Sandra Eithun, Linda Lamb, Kevin McChesney, and Area 5’s own composers Jason Krug and Joe Galyon. Joe also led the Bronze Track choir which included individual ringers from all over Area 5. One ringer even traveled from Maine to be with us! Under the leadership of Area 5 Chair Connie Nicholson, the event offered ringers an exciting and inspirational weekend of ringing and learning.

Between the massed ringing sessions, we held classes on everything from weaving and beginner bell techniques to bell maintenance and sightRINGING. About 20% of the festival attendees were first timers signaling a renewed interest in massed handbell ringing events specifically and a continued excitement for handbell ringing education more broadly throughout Area 5.

Several ringers who attended our Inspiring Event for college and young professional ringers in January joined us in South Bend for the spring festival as well. Five of them also rang in the Bronze Track. Connections made among ringers at festivals and other events often blossom into friendships that last a lifetime! A shared fellowship among the ringers was evident. These broader connections continue to open doors for new events and greater participation around our area. With that said, we still need you!

The future is bright for Area 5 as we embark on a journey that includes new initiatives, the continued growth of our existing programs, and the welcoming of new faces to our board. Stay tuned to Area 5 through social media (links are in the headers above and below) and the Area 5 Newsletter. The Area 5 website contains more informative details about our upcoming summer and fall events in 2023.

Announcements about several new initiatives are coming soon. Some of those events include a workshop focused on bells in worship, several reading sessions for new music, educational opportunities for directors and community groups, our Inspiring 2024 event, and more! Until then, we encourage you to share your stories of bell ringing and fellowship. Be sure to invite others to join your choirs or come to an event with you. Celebrate the joy we experience when we ring together, and let’s keep the momentum going. Ring on!

Jarod Ogier
Area 5 Chair-Elect