Column: A festival full of questionsThere are certain things that go through your mind when you’re in the middle of a multi-day music festival. Like, just how long can you go without showering before returning to civilized society is an impossibility?
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
There are certain things that go through your mind when you’re in the middle of a multi-day music festival. Like, just how long can you go without showering before returning to civilized society is an impossibility? Or, what exactly goes into building a wrought-iron dance floor on top of a converted school bus? Or, should there maybe be some stricter regulations when it comes to which men are allowed to go shirtless in public?
It’s possible those are just the things that go through my head, but I still feel like they’re pretty valid questions.
Before last weekend I’d never actually gone to a multi-day music festival. I’ve been to big concerts before. In 2003 I saw Radiohead with about 30,000 other people. But I’d never been to a concert that required camping. Or even allowed it. You want to be thrown out of Orchestra Hall? Just try rolling out a sleeping bag.
Things change, though, and last weekend I made my first trip to Winstock, a country music festival held each year in Winsted.
It was an unusual move for a couple of reasons. First, while I listened to a lot of country music growing up, there is a significant gap in my functional knowledge of the genre that starts around the time Survivor released Eye of the Tiger, which to the best of my recollection and to my everlasting shame is the first non-country song that really got my attention.
It’s like a modern teenager saying to himself, “You know, I never much cared for popular music, but this Bieber kid really has things figured out.” At least Survivor got onto a decent movie soundtrack.
Second, it’s almost impossible to go to an event that draws huge crowds of people without running into huge crowds of people. As we arrived, I marveled at the sea of campers and tents and, in one case, a trailered boat that someone appeared to be using for weekend housing.
It became obvious early on I was a novice at this whole camping thing. Other people were decorating their campsite with tiki torches and dozens of flags flew above the campsites, representing everything from the United States to the University of Minnesota to a mug of beer. Clearly people pledge their allegiences in many different places.
I didn’t have any of those things. I didn’t even own a cooler or a folding chair before Thursday night. I brought a flashlight, but forgot to pack a pillow or a change of socks.
It was really quite remarkable. There were thousands of people from a wide range of backgrounds. Young and old. Rich and poor. Shirtless and … well, actually mostly shirtless. They were there to enjoy some country music, and drink a lot of beer, though not always in that order.
For all the unfamiliarity and shirtlessness, though, I enjoyed myself. I drank beer. I enjoyed some music. I worked a few hours in one of the festival’s beer tent, stocking plastic pitchers and light-up mugs as quickly as they were thrust into the hands of a novelty drinkware-happy crowd. I didn’t sleep much. I gained something like four pounds.
And I kept my shirt on almost the entire time.