I haven’t been to a music festival since, hmm… 2018 I think, but an opportunity came up to attend Riverhawk in Dade City, north of Tampa, tickets were purchased online and masks lined up for the event from November 13 to 15. There’s something comforting about going back to an activity that you enjoy but have been “prohibited” from attending for what seems like forever. Okay, maybe not “prohibited,” but COVID-19 covered participation opportunities with a “wet blanket.”
Planning, packing, loading, driving and arriving brought back great memories of past years with our fellow music-lovers, camping, setting up a periphery around our group, decorating and campfires. There’s something about the scent of a campfire that’s a memory that never leaves your psyche. Driving down the hill to the Seratona Boy’s Ranch, the site of many music festivals sponsored by different promotors—who have an extensive background in both music and organization—was a ride down a wonderful Memory Lane.
It’s a rustic area of Florida, ranches with cows, large acreage parcels with either small homes or large homes and lots of property surrounding the house with outbuildings for whatever livestock they choose to raise. It’s very peaceful and I can’t help but wonder how they feel about the late-night music that permeates their usual peaceful reverie.
In my experience, campers are unusually considerate, whether in tents or RV’s; they care about their fellow “man” (and woman), the environment and just generally exhibiting kindness to others. Here’s an example. You bring your chairs to a venue, set them up where you want to watch the music either later that day or the next and guess what—they’ll still be there throughout the weekend. Now, if you’re not in attendance, someone else may use your seat(s) to watch that particular event, but no big deal, you can use some other vacant chairs and enjoy the event, or if you’re particularly attached to those chairs, you can request them back for your convenience and the people occupying them at the time will kindly slide down to the chairs left or right and, without animosity, enjoy the music along with you.
Another heartwarming benefit of music festivals is the joys and comradery of children. No matter where the event is held, there’s an area or areas where kids gravitate to explore or just to have fun. At this particular festival, there’s a small stream that runs through the campground. Kids gravitate to that area to play, float things, wade, jump, slide down the “hills” adjacent to the camping area and just generally have an exploratory experience without paranoia. Yes, their parents are nearby, but not hovering. Instead, they give their children the freedom to explore, fall down, get up and learn by doing/experiencing and becoming and learning through the experiences that make them human, aware and caring about their environment and each other.
Wide–open spaces, nature, freedom, kindness, music, artwork, opportunities to learn and grow, musicians with skills to share and advance with like-minded artists… a network of givers, not takers; sharers, not hoarders.
As we prepared to leave and return home, we discovered the camper battery was dead. I know nothing about the ins and outs of RVs, so offering help and ideas was a negative strategy and to be “be quiet” was better. Another camper nearby brought jumper-cables and a hearty, joyful attitude and in no time, we were charged up and preparing to leave. When my husband offered him some $ for his time and effort, he said, “Just pay it forward.”
You have to appreciate the attitudes, comradery, friendship, music appreciation and joy in living when attending a Florida music festival. Every time I participate, it’s like a shot in the arm of goodwill, recharging of my personal batteries and a healthy dose of nature. There are great folks out there, regardless of their garb or appearance; it’s their hearts that count the most.