I don’t always showcase the fun things we do on our vacations and over the weekends if it’s not DIY- or shelter-intensive, but I lived in a tent and camper at a festival near Ithaca, New York for four days (Thursday-Sunday) in a Woodstock or Bonnaroo-like environment, and it’s not often I change my shelter in that extreme of a way. Unless it involves a hotel with a bathroom and a bed, or at least a friend’s couch, I’m kind of a homebody.
I hope telling you a little bit about the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance will get more of you (local or not) into the spirit of embracing it, even if only for a day trip next summer. I suggest day trip, because truth be told, camping for 4 days with hippies and porta potties is dirty, and being that dirty one of those things I just can’t get over; I think overnights are over from now on for me.
Filthiness aside, being at the festival during the daytime is awesome. This was the third time I’ve attended (spanning over 7 years total). With four music stages, there’s not only something for everyone, but there’s something going on at any hour of the day (even through the night and into the morning). Early morning yoga classes. Late night zydeco bands. If you’re there during the day, it’s a bright, sunny, musical, happy place. Love and peace, man.
Into the night, the venues and sky are filled with colorful lights.
Food is invariably my favorite part of the festival. Dozens of food vendors cooking everything from Mexican to Vietnamese to Laotian, a mind-spinning assortment of Greek gyros and hometown breakfast wraps, lobster mac & cheese, burgers, handmade ice cream and the most organic coffees that hippies would go out of their way to source.
Moreover, the vendors participating in Grassroots are encouraged to use compostable materials, so the entire festival itself encourages its patrons to reduce waste. Spoons, plates, bowls, everything. Even my iced coffee cup was made of plants, and face it, that’s awesome.
Meals were served late too, and the fry bread burritos and quesadillas were worth the wait.
And yes, the nachos were damn good.
Day trip-wise, it’s a family-friendly place. Every kid has their face painted with elaborate colors and sparkles. Every adult lines up to have some henna insignia inked on their shoulders, hands, legs, and back. And the group I was with brought our own DIY glitter body art, and for that reason, I’m still covered in green glitter 5 days after I put it on (I know, sooo bachelorette party, but yes, that is why I was actually in attendance).
There were dozens of vendors that sold products too; printmakers, seamstresses, metalsmiths, and artists, all showcasing their range and abilities for the very eco-conscious, friendly, merry audience.
One of my favorite shops was Mexica Crafts, a handmade leather crafts shop out of Woodstock, NY that I had every intention of linking to, except that only now I realize that their website is down (boo!); they had really beautiful hats, belts, and boots, including the cutest ever baby moccasins:
The other artist I most resonated with was Laurel O’Brien, a metalsmith from Ithaca, NY whose jewelry was aesthetically right up my alley. From the silver horseshoe necklace, to her wide assortment of stud earrings (I note because I wear studs 99.9% of the time) and a variety of handmade hammered and shiny rings. I’d even consider special-ordering a wedding band from her shop.
And of course, the musicians performing all sell their albums on site too, so if you like what you hear, you have no excuse not to pick one up.
If by this point it couldn’t get happier (full belly, good music, glitter body art), the Grassroots organization puts on a Happiness Parade every year, inviting visitors to participate, essentially making a hippie chorus line throughout the entire festival. I’ve never participated, but it’s a fun opportunity for families to participate and join the spirit of the festival.
It’s a lot livelier in person, photos don’t do it justice. Dancing, swaying, singing, shouting. And that mask was just as creepy in person… just a friendly reminder that I’ve watched too much Criminal Minds.
If you think it might interest you, check out the organization’s website come fall; they sell 4-day weekend passes at considerable discount before New Year’s, and if you’re dedicated to attending for that long, you’ll want to pick up a camping spot early too.
Did anyone else make it to the festival this year? If you haven’t been before, is it the kind of thing you would enjoy?