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Sep 17 2016

A Week at Shelter Valley Folk Festival

I’ve been to the Shelter Valley Folk Festival every year since 2011. If you’re interested in a look back just do a blog search for SVFF. The first entry from 2012 touches on how Andrea and I got interested in the festival in the first place. And how the idea of volunteering crept into the picture. I’ve published a few videos and galleries over the years as well.

This year was a delightful mix during both the set-up volunteer time and the festival itself.

I wrote earlier about going to Vermont with Andrea for the Overland race. And driving back on Sunday to be ready for Steff and Saba to come over and then get on the road to Grafton. It made for a long day but meant we three volunteers could get our time in and get the work done that needed doing.

On Getting There

While away I’d exchanged some messages with Steff and they needed to make 2 trips to get everything together since I wasn’t able to go down and pick them up. The first load arrived while Andrea & I were away so we got home to the living-room/dining-room full of stuff. Not that it’s usually much different even when it’s just the two of us 🙂 . And that was great because Punch got a visit with a couple of happy people.

On Monday those two rode up on bikes with the rest of their stuff. I had been loading up all the things that were already here so it was a matter of loading bikes on the bus and getting on the road. Which we did somewhere around 10:30. More or less on schedule to get to the site for noon.

The advance setup crew chief is Myk and once we got on site we looked for him to see what he wanted us all to work on. After a little discussion he decided that we’d stick together and work as a team to build the three side stages. I was slightly hesitant because I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss my son and his girlfriend around but only slightly. Steff and I have done a bunch of things that required solid cooperation (canoe camping quickly came to mind) and I liked the idea of getting to spend that much time together. It’s probably 15 or 20 years since we were in the same place for days. So this meant a lot to me. To be fair, the one more recent time was 4 years ago when Steff came to SVFF for the weekend.

On Being There to Work

Ever since I decided to make the week ahead of the festival my time to volunteer I’ve been thrilled with what’s come of it. It’s hard, honest, work-up-a-sweat and get calluses kind of work. And when it’s done you get to see the very real results of your work. So… building stages that a couple thousand people will sit in and around is a big deal! And there’s not much room for getting things wrong. Did I mention that this was the first year for Saba and Steff to be onsite as volunteers? Definitely a jump -n-the-deep end kind of start!

We started on the Lavender Stage. It’s usually the hardest to make work so why not! The location and layout was also changed from previous years, adding to the need to adapt. So off we went. It’s a couple of days work to erect this stage so we only got started with an afternoon of time. It was a good start though. And we also set up our campsites at the top of the hill.

I knew where I was going to park Babe up on the hill. My “secret” spot for getting her reasonably flat. Saba & Steff tried a place near the trees, something they changed their minds about a day or two later. But there we were! Working and set up to camp and life was good!

Camping spot

Camped

Getting there on the Monday meant we had a wide open field to pick spots from. That changed a lot as the week went on. As it always does.

Volunteer Work

Monday was all about getting settled in and getting ready. The rest of the week was full days with lots of hard work.  Day by day the three of us worked together to set up the stages. From Lavender to the Village stage and then finally the Pine stage. We got better as we went along and having started with the hardest meant we had easier stages to set up later. And along the way the hospitality crew did an amazing job of feed us.

So many amazing moments as the week unfolded… I can’t do it justice in words or photos. You really have to be there to get the whole picture. Days filled with effort, challenges and accomplishments. Perhaps a trip to a lake for a swim to wash away the sweat and dirt before sitting down to some home cooked food.  Evenings filled with camaraderie and live music around the campfire. Wake up the next morning, get fed and repeat. Life is good!

So here are a few photos to help tell the tale. Oh… I should mention that Steff celebrated his birthday there (Sept. 1st) and thanks to friends (Barb in particular, Saba too!) he got put on the spot.

Festival Time!

And then it was Friday! A few minor things in the morning while waiting for Andrea to arrive, sitting and relaxing with friends as they rolled in, a celebratory beer (or two). All leading up to an evening of music.The lineup was great with lots of musicians Andrea and I had never heard before. And we’re still listening to them weeks later.

A the end of the main stage there was a little hanging out at our camper and then awesome music around the campfire.The volunteer campfire is always a treat as lots of the musicians camp up there too. And since many of them know each other it’s like a reunion for them too.

Repeat on Saturday with some side stages added in during the morning and afternoon, and then wrap it all up with more music on Sunday. We didn’t stick around for the post festival BBQ but next year we three volunteers are counting on it.

Here’s a video of photos I put together… if you want to see them at your own pace they’re all published on my website.

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