Not-so-secret agent Tara reporting in from the Grey Fox Festival in the green rolling hills of beautiful upstate New York.
So far I just love the place. Everyone I meet is completely nice and helpful and laid back. It is a really big festival with lots of activities in tents all happening at once, a nice variety of vendors, and ample choices for food. There are plenty of meat as well as veggie options of many kinds. A couple different fancy coffee stands with really long named fancy drinks with “…cinno” on the end etc. Real fruit smoothies, and a whole ice cream parlor booth. Food vendors seem to generally stay open until midnight too, which all you festival goers know is a great thing, and one gets to change their boring old American currency for the fun loving “bluegrass bucks” or “Funny Money” as they call it here.
As for variety of education-related activities, this festival really does a fantastic job. They have scheduled mediation classes, yoga classes, workshops on all the normal bluegrass instruments by great teachers and, of course, their famous 4 day “Kid’s Academy” headed up by Brian Wickland. Then they have a slow jam tent, dance tent, family (kids) tent, etc. So much to do it can be overwhelming.
I really love that they also offer scholarships toward college for 2-5 deserving kids each year who want to attend music schools. From their past recipients many have gone on to become well respected professional musicians. The Scholarship Fund is called the Bill Vernon Memorial Scholarship Fund (Bill would love that).
Another difference here is that they anyone camping in the festival is basically entered into best campsite contests and the Greenest campsite contest. Grey Fox makes is very easy to recycle everywhere, which is a nice touch. As I understand it, whomever wins the “greenest campsite award will get 2 free tickets to next year’s festival.
People also take pride in their campsites in other ways too. Having only been here one day, I am sure I will have some follow up on campsites decor and activities. The campground has designated and labeled Quiet Camping areas, and then the normal all night party areas. Some vendors are conveniently located right down in the campground area too, with others up on top of the hill with the main stage.
The festival has lovely little road signs throughout the campsite with names of famous bluegrass greats so one can remember their way around. Some of the camps also motivate to create their own added festival activities, such as the Third Annual Parade on Saturday and the Toga Party on Friday night that the Grillbillies spearhead.
Another really wonderful thing they still have going on here is the chairs for the audience. I LOVE the festivals where all sorts of folks bring all sorts of chairs. It makes a beautiful quilt-work landscape, and is a bit like a large trusting potluck. Everyone brings one or a few to pitch in and they look so cool. Almost all my favorite festival memories seem to take place at festivals with the non-matching chair oceans that people bring and leave there for the weekend. It makes me feel good about the world and the folks in it that festivals can still run knowing people can bring their supplies and add them and trust each other with them.
Oh yes, and one would not want to forget… there is even music to watch here too!
They have 4 stages going most of the day and into the night, with some traditional style bluegrass like Danny Paisley and his gang, and a fairly eclectic mix of other traditional-based music groups, some of whom are definitely mixing in many different flavors and influences. The full schedule can be seen on line, but I have included some photos and video links here to get a little taste of the cool stuff going on here.
Here are some fun video links from the Kelller Williams and the Travelin McCouries Show. They picked really hilarious songs for the most part and had a great time with them and played them hot enough to melt a few faces.
What festival goer has not met interesting people in festival lines? Here is a Keller Williams song capturing beatifully the concept of meeting your baby in the port-o-potty line. Just goes to show you that one maybe ought not whine about things, but see the glass as half full.
Hmm. Big line for the bathrooms, or the food, etc… I wonder what way cool person I could be about to meet?