I made it to Arkansas for the Harvest Music Festival, but not without stalling of course. On Tuesday I pretty much had everything ready to go. It started storming Tuesday night and well into Wednesday morning. I was getting bummed. Finally the weather cleared up a bit and I headed out alone. My sister was supposed to fly up and go with me, but that didn’t happen. Off I went.
I’d never been to Mulberry Mountain in Arkansas before. The drive is stunning. I took this route – 65 South, 412/62 West, 23 South. That’s it. Easy drive. 23 South of course is the most beautiful roadway as that is the road that heads up the mountain. Of course since I was driving on a curvy, two-lane road, I didn’t get to turn my head as much as I wanted to. My car handles great on curves, so it was fun to drive. I arrived and found my contact person. I followed him (he was in a golf cart) to my campsite. I pitched my tent in no time and then he gave me a tour ride in his golf cart of the grounds. Beautiful location for sure. But I think I already said that.
The first night was a bit creepy. The wind started blowing and I mean fiercely around midnight. I grabbed my phone and logged onto Facebook. Why? Who knows. Someone I knew said to look for someone named Nina. They said she would be selling her tie dyed tees there. Cool. I only knew one person so far so that would be nice if I found her. Around 1 a.m. I heard someone pitching a tent next to mine. The wind was crazy so I got up and offered to help. I introduced myself and she said her name was Nina. No shit.
She’d already set up her canopy for her dyes and it was whipping in the wind. Her tent was getting tattered. By 3 a.m. we took all of her stuff down, stowed the merchandise in her car, threw her tent in the trash and off she went to stay with friends. My shelter was still standing but I pretty much got no sleep. I told her something good would come from the destruction and it did. On Friday she set up a nice tie dye workshop. She was so busy she couldn’t keep up with it. She made more than enough dough to purchase a new canopy for the next fair.
I awoke to wind again on Thurday morning so I opted for not using the campstove. I paid $2 for some shitty coffee and had peanut butter and crackers, an apple and an orange. I was exhausted. I am not an all night person and I never have been. Those of you who know me, already know this. I was scheduled to teach yoga everyday at 10 a.m. and I was pretty excited about that as well as meeting other yogis. I grabbed my mat and headed over the fence which was close to my campsite. Another girl showed up and asked where she could plug in her music. What? There’s like music all around us was my thought. Then she said she was there to teach the yoga class. Really? Anyways, she firmly believed she was supposed to be there. So did I, but not as firmly as she did. She said how about if she taught the first two mornings and I taught the last two. OK. Problem solved. I participated in her class, it was hot out. The sun felt great. Our teepee that we were supposed to practice under had been destroyed by the wind the night before. Yoga outdoors was great even though I was totally exhausted.
After the class my thought was wow, what shall I do with the rest of my day? I didn’t have to do anything or be anyplace. I took several walks around the property. Music started around noon so I enjoyed the small stages that were around us. My camp as I would find out later, was parked too close to an entertainment tent. I decided if I was going to make it through the next 3-nights, I would need to sleep in shifts. So Thursday evening around 8, I crashed. I woke up to beautiful music around midnight. I got up, sat in my chair, poured a glass of wine (from a box) and listened. It was Railroad Earth and they were playing “Lovin’ You” – what a great song. The air was crisp and cool and the sky was totally clear and the blackest black. No wind. The stars were unbelievable and so was the moon. Every now and then I would see these orange paper lanterns go floating by. They looked like small hot air balloons. I dug it and decided that I was very happy to be there experiencing all of this right now.
Friday morning some yoga friends from Springfield appeared and man was I happy to see them. There was about 5,000 to 7,000 folks at this thing and I really didn’t see anyone that I knew. We took the yoga class together and then I walked with them to their camp. What was once a beautiful field was now a sea of tent tops, cars and flags. I realized people flew flags so they could actually find their campsite. I did feel a bit claustrophobic at times. The wide open space was completely gone by Saturday morning. I downed several glasses of their ice water, engaged in conversation and probably talked too much. After all, I’d been completely alone for like 72 hours so it was nice to chat.
There were several stages. One was in a tent right outside my tent. It was smaller and hosted more local acts, a burlesque show and some Q & A sessions. One small stage, was down a cool tree lined road full of vendors. Another stage was under a huge, white tent not too far from me. The main stage is totally gorgeous. It is big and the trees are the backdrop. Every night a band called Yonder Mountain String Band played. When they went on, most other stages went dark. The nightly entertainment was awesome. Girls were dancing with hula hoops that lit up. Some of them were actually on FIRE. I like fire and a group of Piyo people (dancing with balls of fire on chains) were showing their skills as well. There were also these huge puppet people that would walk around the grass and just stalk you. They were pretty neat to look at. On the down side, there were a lot of drunk people and the things that go with that. No need to elaborate. I never felt unsafe even though I was alone. Everyone was so very nice and friendly.
After the yoga class on Friday, the teacher asked me if she could just please teach one more day because she was supposed to do it all. I said you know what, you can just teach Sunday as well. I didn’t teach a class the entire time I was there and I got over it pretty quickly, because that’s how I roll. I got my campstove out Friday night and made pasta and toasted garlic bread in a skillet. More people arrived and 3 tents were all of a sudden being pitched on top of mine. This was a band and their people and they played great music in the tent outside of my campsite on Friday night. I spent that night wandering about watching lanterns, listening to music, watching people and drinking wine. As I said before, the entertainment in the evening was very cool.
Friday evening I did not get a nap in so by ten I was dead. I crashed out pretty hard until the people in the next to mine decided to party in more ways than one. They’d invited me over but I wasn’t interested. Probably a good call on my part. At 1:00 a.m. Speakeasy started playing in the tent outside of my campsite. Whoa. They are rambunctious, loud and have a massive light show. No sleeping through that for sure. There was also a lot of smoke from campfires and lots of other things and I knew I would die from carbon monoxide if I didn’t emerge from my tent soon. I caught a glimpse of a tasteful burlesque show, watched more people, listened to music and felt totally delirious. I had no idea what time it was. My phone was dead and so was the battery in my car from charging it so many times. I think it was almost daylight on Saturday when I fell asleep. I woke up to the sun earlier than most people. I started my campstove, chatted with the security dudes and made hot tea. I sat in my chair and let the sun hit my face and started to peel off the layers of clothes that I’d slept in. The nights were cool and the days were hot. It was like being in Colorado. I opted out for yoga on Saturday morning. I wanted to get my car started. Finally it turned over and I let it run for a little bit. I’m sure I asphyxiated all the people who were still asleep. Paybacks are hell I know.
I decided since I wasn’t going to be teaching on Sunday, that maybe I would just head on home. I grabbed my hot tea and headed to the encampment of my friends. They were making whole wheat pancakes with yogurt and had cantaloupe. I ate a great breakfast with them and told them I’d catch them later. I headed back and packed up my campsite in all of 15 minutes. I took another walk and noticed the line at the shower trailer was 50 people long. I was glad I got mine in on Friday. They had one shower trailer with 6 stalls for women and 6 for men. It cost $5 and I would’ve paid $10. Money well spent if you ask me. I did a little shopping before I left too. Had to have a Harvest T-shirt and I found Lauren a beautiful woven bracelet. She wears about 20 on one arm.
I headed back to my car and decided that yes, it was probably time to go. A day early at that. I was tired and I would have time to totally recuperate and be rested for Monday if I left now. The drive is about three and half hours.
Would I do this again? Maybe. I’m not sure I’d pay to go though. Hopefully the yoga thing will work out if I attend again. I know what to do and what not to do next for next time. I would definitely camp further away from all the action. If you do not like outdoor toilets, don’t go. There are plenty of them, but with people who party they can get nasty pretty fast. They did do a good job keeping the toilet paper up and getting them hosed out. There were also handwashing stations and that was a good thing. You can bring your own liquor but no glass. You can also buy it there, but it’s costly. There’s also a lot of smoke, campfires and otherwise. So let’s just say it’s definitely a harvest of many different kinds. If you don’t want to pay to shower, then you’ll have to do without. There are reserved campsites in the wooded areas, they are costly and fill up fast. They have showers and toilets for those folks only. The fields where the majority camp have no shade so bring a canopy of some sort. Even though it wasn’t super hot, some shade is nice now and then.
This was an event filled with all kinds of people. People of all ages. There were to my surprise a lot of children there. I don’t think I’d take my own daughter though. I did find that when I got home the biggest adjustment was simply going indoors. I thoroughly enjoyed being outside, almost all the time, totally for 4 days.
Happy Harvest for it’s that time of year.