The fourth annual event featured about a dozen bands a day Sept. 23-25 and a few to wind things down Sept. 26. They performed on three different stages placed about a half mile apart. The main stage defines its authority as where the best bands will play because it has the words Terrapin Hill spelled out in cedar logs. The Truck Stop stage was made by placing an old, red truck in the ground. The third stage is labeled the Chapel stage. It was a workout to hop back and forth between music venues, chasing the music. Of the many bands we saw - and there were many that we missed because the cream of the crop didn't start playing until 11 p.m. - we rated Phiasco as tops. But it was Railroad Earth that had the crowd jiving to its instrumental frenzy before we left about 11 p.m. Sept. 25. In addition to the scheduled bands, impromptu music, played among the vendor booths, was refreshing as the occasional breezes that blew across the hill. Cornmeal of Chicago, which was on the schedule a couple of times, didn't want to be idle and gave concerts near a Good Foods Co-op stand.
Even with array of music from Bluegrass to rock, tie-dyed T-shirts to be viewed, and smell of food cooking, it was the people who gave the festival its distinct atmosphere. Dreadlocks were commonplace as were people who only had one name. They went by Compass or Turtle and didn't worry about a last name.
Working at the gate gave me insight
Working at the gate gave me insight into the behind the scenes operation. Because a good friend was in charge of volunteers and deemed me as trustworthy, I found myself as keeper of the cash box a couple nights. I was seated next to the people giving out the free tickets to performers and vendors and the occasional person who convinced us that they knew the right people but their name somehow had been omitted from the list. It seemed every situation was unique. One of my favorites was the girl who said she should get in free instead of paying the $70 weekend admission because she had broken her ankle last year. That's a good one, I thought. They let her in for half price.
My second favorite was the guy and his girlfriend who came from Pennsylvania and didn't have any money. They wanted to volunteer but my friend claimed she had enough volunteers. She relented and let the guy be the last volunteer. The only job left for him was to pick up every single cigarette butt on Sunday when the festival ended. He gave his name as Sometimes. I will always wonder how he fared.
Having been to the festival every year, I have to say I was impressed by the number of children's activities. Granted many people didn't have children, but the ones who did had their own little playground area where they could make crafts, have their face painted or even take a nap. On Saturday, the kids were a big part of the show as they paraded with their peace flags and chanted for peace. It is heartwarming when kids give the message.
Although agritourism is given as the reason for the festival and the people who share their farm with the general public, Pete and Brenda Cashel, and their three young children, put a lot of faith in their weekend visitors, I can't help but feel some people weren't so environmentally aware.
Love Our Planet, a group from Louisville that promotes recycling, said they picked up seven bags of trash off the hill Saturday morning. I couldn't fathom that because there were clearly marked trash cans everywhere for separating trash into cans, bottle and paper.
Many people were present just to further their cause. One man took great care in drawing designs on my children and revealed that he works with terminally ill children in San Diego. A woman from Berea who was selling glass beads she makes and incorporates in jewelry, identified herself as a member of the Phunky Bitches. The mission of this woman's group was to equip the port-a-johns with tampons, condoms, baby wipes and Band-Aids.
This was just her small contribution to making the festival run smoother. It was a sun- and blue sky-filled weekend that offered an variety of music, sights and colors that definitely add up to form a unique canvas, a work of art in motion.