Friday, June 10, 2016

My First Overnight Festival: Cosmic Reunion

I've been to a few concerts and back. I've even accidentally snuck into a music festival on it's last day. It really was an accident though...really.

Despite all of that, I have never camped at a festival. Bonnaroo has always been on my wish list but for some reason I never have an extra $400 to spend at the beginning of the summer...weird.

Cosmic Reunion (or hippiefest as I and many others have so lovingly named it) is a music/ art/ craft festival a little ways outside of St. Louis, MO in the quiet town of French Village in the even quieter crevasse of Astral Valley. A friend told me about it back in April and I figured for a measly $65 for four days and no vendor's fees, I couldn't go wrong.

Vocalist: "There goes the naked man again."
At first glance, the festival seemed pretty understaffed but it didn't matter. Within the first thousand feet of the entrance, my eyes feasted upon art installations anywhere from a few inches to fifty feet tall. Vivid colors scattered across the open meadow in front of the half rickety looking, half uber high tech stage. Crafters, masseuses, wild mushroom hustlers and other vendors were packed to the brim (my spot saved, of course) along the dirt road everyone called "shakedown street". Despite the lack of clear guidelines outside of a very general map, everyone somehow figured out exactly where to park camp and exist without getting in each other's way. The setup was pretty perfect.

"This thing seems a bit unstable."
"Eh, it's fine."
"Your bike is awesome."
"Thanks! It glows in the dark."
Cosmic Reunion changed me in many ways. Coming from where most people either blindly mind their businesses or are all up in everyone's businesses for the most superficial of reasons, it was wonderful to see the amount of sharing, bartering and community going on. While selling my bags, my jewelry-making neighbors, Kim and Jake passed around rum. After a nice conversation with the bag lady next to me, she handed me fresh hot pancakes. On the last day, a man complimented one of my bags so I gave him a tote. In return, he gave me a beautiful piece of blown glass. After that, I traded a couple of more bags for tie-dye overalls and priceless cheap fabric-finding information. Those without much money were always willing to trade and people were mostly happy to agree.

Not only was there an active trading community; there was a surplus of creativity. Everyone, seemed to have something creative to contribute, even if they didn't bring an installation. On my first day, there were but a few rock sculptures along the river. By the last night you couldn't walk a few feet without seeing even the smallest of rock sculptures. Even kids got to paint and draw on a few installations. Between the amount of creativity and the people who were giving out "free hugs" I thought I could stay in that atmosphere forever.

The festival changed me. It reassured me that there are still many people in this world who are 100% willing to live outside of an oligarchical system that focuses on helping oneself.  Here everyone put away predisposed prejudice and paranoia  to help one another out. Even the artists forsook credit for their art. Who built that giant intricate 50 foot bird's nest? I have no idea.

While the festival played a big part in my changing my perspective, the preparation played a big part in my confidence. About a month or so before Cosmic Reunion I had stumbled upon about 50 or so free burlap coffee bags from a local KC coffee place (thanks Craigslist!) so I bought a sewing machine and gathered all of my acquired fabric, went at it and made whatever I thought would sell.

Mentally, I'm extremely self destructive so while I was going through the learning curve of making bags, my usual self explained -quite loudly and in detail- to my self esteem why this was a horrible idea and a waste of time and how I won't be able to enjoy the festival and it would lead to nothing. I actually cried a little. I'm pretty hard on myself. But this time around I just pushed on and kept telling myself that I could do it. And guess what?! I did it! I finished up with a reasonable amount of product, sold most of it and I got to enjoy the festival.

 So now here I am, a couple of weeks later. Bug bites healing. Van all cleaned out. Preparing more burlap to be turned into bags. Googling how to do fire poi.  The tingle of Cosmic Reunion has finally worn off. It's another day. But thanks to the festival, I'm another me.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to share your opinion or travel advice? Go ahead!