Roaring crowds, ample glowsticks, hula hoops, dreads, bikinis and any sort of freakish outfit imaginable; music festivals can be a grandiose combination of peace and love ... and utter chaos. But at a music festival, there's something beautiful in all of that chaos. I think all of that can be narrowed down to togetherness.
For a few days, most real-world worries about jobs, bills and other mundane life obligations are set aside. A festival becomes one giant living organism in itself, where people help people and come together through the very soundwaves that they are celebrating.
Appealing as that sounds, to some, festivals can be intimidating; large crowds, loud music, rowdy people and many other issues that go hand-in-hand at large events.
Fans cheer at last year’s Bonnaroo music festival. Sun-Gazette Assistant Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor Lyndsey Hewitt will give area readers a first-hand report of this year’s festival after she attends it June 13 through 16.
If you have a problem with crowds and loud music, obviously a music festival isn't for you. Those two aspects are non-negotiable, aside from maybe bringing powerful earplugs. But for the more adventurous, festivals can be eye-opening in a number of ways, and in my opinion, a sure-fire bucketlist item for all lovers of music.
At 22 years old, I made the decision to attend one for the first time in June 2012: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, a large-scale, very-commercialized, four-day festival located on what they call "the farm" in the middle of a gigantic field in Manchester, Tenn.
Prior to that, I had absolutely no desire to attend a music festival. To someone of lesser-means, this may sound completely petty, but the thought of not showering for a few days really bothered me. But I was able to put that aside and bought the tickets anyway and enjoyed it enough to purchase them again for this June.
If a music festival can be defined, which arguably it can't because it encompasses so much, even outside of music, I would say it is a place where thousands of some of the most creative and artistic gather to celebrate their love of art. There are many of these celebrations all over the nation and world.
If you can't make the long hike to some of the larger U.S. festivals, like 'Roo, Coachella or Lollapalooza, though, don't fret. It might be a good idea to start on a smaller scale (and burn much less of a hole in your pocket).
In Pennsylvania, and I would imagine in just about every state, there are medium and smaller-sized fests.
For 2013 in Pa., some of these include: Madsummer Meltdown #4, Schuylkill Haven, June 21 to 23; Mixtape Festival, Hershey, July 26 and 27; Musikfest, Bethlehem, Aug. 2 to 11; Flood City Music Festival, Johnstown, Aug. 2 to 4; The Peach Music Festival, Scranton, Aug. 15 to 18; Equifunk, Equinunk, Aug. 16 to 19; Made in America, Philadelphia, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; and Chuck's Farm, Rebersburg, according to their Facebook page, is set for Sept. 20 and 21. There are plenty more outside of these, too.
To do this, though, there is a lot of preparation involved; at Bonnaroo and many multiple-day festivals, a tent becomes home for a few days. So, the obvious camping preparations and precautions are necessary. You never know what the weather may be like.
But there's really no need for me to go into detail about what camping gear you need, more than likely you've gone camping before. Most music festivals take place in the dead heat of summer, so the main, big thing to remember is to hydrate. If you think you've drank enough, you probably haven't, so drink more. You'll feel much better; it helps sustain energy to stay awake for those late-night sets.
But for the sake of print space, just do a quick Google search of "things to bring to a music festival" and you'll find thousands of webpages from experienced festival-goers who provide handy checklists and tips.
Aside from being physically well-prepared, being mentally prepared is a must. You're going to see a lot of people who are different than you. To have an open mind is probably, aside from regular hydration, the next most valuable piece of advice.
Guaranteed you'll come back a changed person, for the better. Enduring a music festival is an accomplishment of the mind and body. After Bonnaroo, I could say that I was more outgoing, willing to talk to strangers and help people out. But most of all, I was more laid back. Bonnaroo has its own code, called the "Bonnaroovian Code," where one of the key points is to radiate positivity. This should go for any festival. Afterward, you'll come back to real life carrying some of that code with you.
"Your Bonnaroo is a snowflake that will soon melt. Leave the world Out There out there, and while you're In Here, take advantage of your one shot to make the most of your experience. Savor every flavorful moment," part of the code says on their website, bonnaroo. com.
Luckily, I get to endure Bonnaroo for a second time in just a week. This year's big headliner is Paul McCartney. Stay tuned for my post-'Roo experience -- hopefully it will go as well this time as it did last year.
In the mean time, choose a fest for yourself, if you're up for it. Whether you go for the art, the music, the people, or whatever -- surely you won't regret it.
Area music festivals
Billtown Blues Festival, noon, Sunday, Lycoming County Fairgrounds, 1 E. Park St., Hughesville.
Jam Along the Creek III, June 14 to 16, 1120 Hoffman Lane, Millmont.
Smoked Country Jam, June 20 and 21, Quiet Oaks Campground, 88 Quiet Oaks Campground Lane, Cross Fork.
Liberty Fest 2013, noon, July 5 and 6, Liberty Festival Grounds, Liberty.
A Bear's Picnic, Aug. 1 to 5, Lycoming County Fairgrounds, 1 E. Park St., Hughesville.