Ask Sally

The questions fly, fast, frequent and furious. The answer of the day is, "Ask Sally." Standing on her tiptoes, tossing an answer to a stage crew member, you'd think she was a kid peeking over a neighbor's backyard fence, but today Sally is the General. It's August 5th and we're at the Heritage Blues Fest 2000 at Clermont State Historic Site. Blues Fest is the brainchild of Sally Naramore, owner of North River Promotions, and her husband Bruce, Site Manager at Clermont.

Pulling off an event of this magnitude is no easy feat, details, details, details all screaming for attention. At 5'3", Sally is a red haired dynamo; her energy and laugh are infectious. But how did Sally get here?

Born in Glendora, California just outside Los Angeles, her family moved to Kettering, Ohio, just outside of Dayton when she was eleven. She majored in Theatre and History at Ohio Wesleyan, just outside of Columbus. She planned to be a serious stage actor on Broadway one day. Theatre and history are similar she explains, "They both deal with people, how they live their lives."

She considered foreign policy work, but languages were not to her liking. During one summer break she took a job as an "Interpreter" (museum talk for tour guide) in Liverpool, just outside of Syracuse on Onondaga Lake. She worked for the Salt Museum; yes salt, the same stuff you put in the shaker on your kitchen table. The Salt Museum Director at the time was a dashing young man named Bruce Naramore. Sally discovered that being an Interpreter was a good marriage between acting and research; she'd found her love, museum work.

Back at school she ambitiously refocused her studies toward museums. Her goal was to be the Deputy Director of the Dupont Museum in Delaware by her 40th birthday. She spent a year at the Museum of the City of New York, then went on to get her masters degree in American history and museum studies, focusing on labor and industrial history. "I was an idealist," she laughs.

In 1983 she arrived in Columbia County as the Executive Director of the Columbia County Historical Society, planning to stay five years. Bruce was now the Site Manager at Clermont. They had kept in touch. Romance bloomed. They were married in 1988 and settled in Kinderhook. When her daughters Sarah and Susie came along, Sally became a consultant working out of her home. This allowed her the freedom to raise her children. She set about consulting numerous non-profit organizations, The Historical Society, as the curator of exhibits, the Friends of Clermont, where she still runs a history camp for children every summer, and the Columbia Heritage Tour.

Music entered her life when she became the Promotion Manager at North Pointe. She proposed a coffee house venue and began booking jazz, folk and blues artists. Friend Mark Calkins was forming a blues band, the Soul Providers, and asked Sally to manage. Blues artist Jeff Gonzales asked, too and North River Promotions was born. The name North River refers to the early name of the Hudson River. Then came Blues Fest.

Sally and Bruce wanted to bring something new to Clermont and at the same time expand the Clermont audience. The idea was to create a full day of music comprised of area bands and nationally known acts.

"It's a good thing, Blues Fest, opening and acquainting the museum to a new audience," Sally chimes.

"What's the most fun?" I ask.

"The festival day," she beams. She thrives on the 18-hour day.

Sally loves the bands she represents, "You must believe in the product. I couldn't do it otherwise." They played at her 40th birthday party, to honor her. It's a long way from the dream of the Dupont Museum, but Sally's not sad about it at all.

"Dreams change," she says. Her college friends all had five, five and ten year plans for success. Only two are still involved with museums; they all discovered other life options.

"I've lived here longer than anyplace. Columbia County holds you here." Sally smiles, "Life is something you cannot plan. I love it."

We'll talk next time, From the Road.

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