July 24, 2006

2006 Falcon Ridge Wrap Up

Well, we're back and its time for a little wrap up. I could not sleep - the pile of stuff to do brought me to early consciousness, as did the body aches, need for a shower, and my body's 4 nights training that 6 hours of fitful sleep is sufficient. So, I blog! (and drink some delicious coffee, after 5 days of campside percolation and staff kitchen mud!)

The Framework
First, the skeleton on which to hang my vignettes. As blogged, Zippy was day-to-day with regard to FRFF. I took off early on Wednesday, arriving in Hillsdale before noon. Zippy decided to come and showed up around 4 pm on Friday. Wednesday - Friday were pretty great, with sun and warmth. We awoke Saturday to gray, which became rain in the morning. It misted / rained / was cloudy for over 24 hours, Saturday through Sunday @ 1:00 pm. Saturday about 3 pm, the heavens let loose with a downpour of biblical proportions. More on that later. We packed up Sunday morning, and after working our 1 - 3 pm shift, took off. It was a hard weekend for me, but it was really hard on Zippy, and she needed to get home.

The New Site
After 14 or so years on Bob Brennan's Long Hill Farm (sold, and now rumored to be owned by some principals in Clear Channel), the festival moved to Dodd's Farm, still in Hillsdale, 5 miles north on Rte. 22. Incredible to me how well the festival nestled into the new site - all of the main stages and tents were laid out nearly identical to the old site. Big differences: The workshop stage was a bit more remote, there was no camping near the dance stage (dance friends were inconvenienced), the midways and vendor areas were larger and more spread out. There was more camping available, and more trees, so that more sheltered and remote campsites could be found. Day parkers did not have to cross busy Rte. 23. But, assuming the owners can live with the festival's disruption and impact on the land, and the festival can iron out some of the issues that arose this year - yeah. Incredible find. There were many times I forgot it was not the old site.

Tee Shirts
I volunteer on the Tee Shirt crew. Not a lot new there. The tent was about the same. We had a lighter crew this year, but no serious staff issues, all good workers. Jodi and Ellen were a little sticter in terms of volunteers (keeping attendance at set-up and tear down) and that helped. We also had less stock to sell - between an extra day of music, perhaps light pre-ticket sales that drove a lighter than usual tee-shirt order, and the rain which drove some sales on replacement shirts, we were wiped out by Saturday, and Sunday, sold the dregs. If I ran the world (or the crew), there were some things I might do different (a bit more anal retentive prep work and organization, a bit more attention to what sold out when to aide in next year), but I do not. Things ran fine, Ellen and Jodi do a good job. It's a great crew to work on.

Despite leaving my yoga music loaded MP3 player at home, I hit the mat, on the dance tent floor, 3 out of 4 mornings. (and I was ready to go on Sunday morning, but I found that there might be Saturday night festical refugees (more later) camped out there, so I decided to stay in bed). I ended up doing postures for close to an hour each day, nothing formal or rigorous, kind of a combination of a gentle practice (to work out the kinks) with some sun salutations (to work up some heat) and some John inspired standing sequences (flowy). A combination of intellectual memory, muscle memory, and intuition based on listening to my body, I guess.

There were a few others out there with me, usually I was up and at 'em about 30 minutes before others, so I practiced alone. But on Friday morning, I became aware of the security person coming off an overnight shift at the dance tent mirroring my practice at the other end of the tent (just vaguely aware; its a big tent and I practiced without my glasses). But as I walked off the floor, he put his hands together and bowed. On Saturday, I was more conscious of him, and afterwards he came over to talk. He was new to yoga, and liked following me; I was not doing anything particularly strenuous or requiring super flexibility, yet I was moving through postures at a steady pace that worked for him. He thanked me for the experience.

I walked back to the campsite glowing. I have been practicing for about a year, and have felt like a student - pulling energy and wisdom from those above me. Now, I feel like I am part of a chain, with those I can learn from, and those I can give back to.

Yoga was a real plus this year. Always an early riser at the fest, it gave me something to do in the morning while my site mates slept. And it really seemed to lubricate the joints and relax the muscles - tired from sun, from walking and standing, from sleeping in a tent, from festival food and libations, and from long days.

The aforementioned 3 pm Saturday downpour was a mess. The site drainage was not great (despite a year of work by the site crew folks and organizers) and a small river ran through the festival grounds. In tee-shirts, we had 3-6" of water on the floor, which quickly turned to mud. Similar stream to mud transitioned occured in the midway, across two major access routes to the main stage, and through lower camping. It was a huge mess. At the old site, plenty of hay was available and spread to soak up the water. At the new site, there was less of it around, so a lot more mud.
Photo courtesy of Mary, one of the denizens of Camp Fudgie
In tee shirts, we battened down the hatches. Shoes were removed, and we walked in mud to our ankles for a few hours (not great for the feet, rocks and sharp corn / hay stalks being under the water and mud). It was a real mess. Our campsite was not flooded, but my pricey new dining fly / shelter collapsed due to water buildup (a couple of judicious slices with a knife to provide some drainage would have saved it - my bad) we were on shift so could not save things during the storm. The frame was a total loss. Next year, 2x4's, a big tarp, and big ass ropes and stakes, and nothing less! And hopefully, some lessons learned in terms of site drainage and having hay on hand.

And watching those with disabilities (lot of manual and power wheelchairs, but also crutches and canes) slogging through the mud, its hard to feel all that sorry for yourself.

Early Sunday morning, a vehicle in upper camping caught fire. No idea as to the cause (initial rumors of fireworks seem unfounded, rumor is an electrical fire, but really, a candle, lantern, cigarette, joint, camp stove, or heater could have been involved). A van and a pop up trailer were destroyed, another car rumored to be damaged, and the firetruck backed up into a third vehicle. It was all the talk on site on Sunday.

The good news - nobody seriously hurt. All the rain left things soggy, so the fire was confined to a small area - it could have been much much worse. Lot of smoke and chaos at 3 am, and most of the campers in the area were evacuated to the dance stage (hence no sunday morning yoga). I ran into people in various bandages, crutches and slings - related to the evacuation and fire panic. I was aware of a fire glow outside my tent (quite distant from the conglagration) but our adjacent neighbors in that direction had a campfire going in a metal grill - I assumed they had simply added a log and the fire had flared up.

Apparently, the crisis was handled well by security and senior volunteer crew who were up. My crew chief Ellen was in the middle of it (she briefed me early Sunday, handed over the keys, and slept in). But throughout the day I kept overhearing snippets of conversations that ended up "You should have woken me up, I wanted a piece of the action" - festival cowboys. I guess it was pretty damn exciting. Thank the festival gods it was not worse, nobody died, and nobody was more seriously injured.

Truth be told, I rarely sit in front of the stages at Falcon Ridge. If I really want to see someone, I do, but between work and socializing and stuff - well, its enough to be immersed in the place. We hear stuff from the tee-shirt tent, or from the campsite, or from the staff kitchen.

I ended up picking up 4 CD's - Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams (Flapjacks from the Sky), Cheryl Wheeler (Defying Gravity), Kym Tuvim (On the Mend), and Girlyman (Little Star). I did not buy music last year (broke) but this year I had some money. And I generally like to freshen and flesh out my folkie collection - which has stagnated a bit from days of Gorka, Morrissey, Larkin, Brown.

Gandalf: Just fun, and we really liked the slower stuff they played on mainstage
Cheryl: I always love her stuff, she makes me cry at least 2 times per set or disk
Kym: Just a hunch, I like her voice, I like the things I've heard. She deserves to sell a few CD's
Girlyman: I meant to get something last year. They have a new disk out. Fun and queerish.

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