Music could be heard echoing in the distance from practically any direction you walked, the strong, smoky scent of a hundred (or more) campfires permeated the air, and an electric vibe was being emitted from every happy-go-lucky festival goer we passed. The atmosphere was an extremely lively one from the get-go. I was super excited to be attending the Shakori Hills Music Festival for the very first time. While it did have its fair share of ups and downs during the 4-day event, in the end, I was glad that we attended because I had an absolute blast.
Friday, however, was another story. We were drenched with buckets of rain nearly all day long. I enjoyed it at first because I was excited about getting a chance to wear my wellies (rain boots). However, I grew weary of being waterlogged very quickly. For the most part, I stayed dry due to the raincoat, rain boots, & umbrella I carried with me, but it was much colder than we anticipated and it chilled you to the bone. Refuge from the rain could be found under one of two large tents set up with stages for music or we could choose to huddle under our tarp back at the campsite for a brief reprieve or the warmest option was to thaw out near the public fire pit when a seat opened up. Only the brave bothered to endure the downpour, not many other people were out that day. Truth be told, Friday was a little miserable on account of the rain, but we stuck it out nonetheless.
By the time we reached the mid-point of the music festival, Cody and I had already heard several outstanding bands, eaten more than our fair share of food from the vendors, and walked almost a million miles passing out recycling bags to the many campers in need. On top of this being my first time at this grassroots festival, it was also my first time volunteering to get free admission with any festival. Our job (mine and Cody’s) was to pass out recycling bags to all of the campers staying at this festival, there were literally hundreds of people and they covered a rather large area. Aside from the blisters I got from trudging through the mud in my rainboots, we enjoyed our jobs and hope to do it again next year.
When we weren’t working (3hrs a day) or listening to the amazing music, Cody and I could most likely be found grabbing some grub from one of the many food vendors. We were given a couple suggestions about what to get from our friends who have been to this festival before. A “Veggie Thing” from the Sugar Shack (pictured in the collage above) was one item we heard people raving about that we couldn’t resist trying. It was a tortilla packed with fresh raw veggies, salsa, and a chutney-like sauce that gave it a little zing. For something so basic and simple, it was incredible! We ate two of them over the course of our 4-day stay. In fact, we ate a TON of stuff throughout the festival; I won’t give you a list of everything because it’s too embarrassing. I will say, though, that we didn’t try anything that we didn’t really like, it was all very tasty!
After tearing ourselves away from the area where vendors were dishing out delicious food, we moseyed on over to a nearby stage where the music was being played. In all, there were two outdoor stages (one large and one medium sized) and two large circus-style tents. A band always seemed to be playing somewhere between the various venues. They started early in the morning (9am) and played until late in the evening (1am). I didn’t realize that I would be in for such an abrupt awakening the next morning; next time, I’ll be sure to bring some earplugs! Out of the 60 some odd bands that were playing during the Shakori Hills festival, there were only 5 or 6 that I had even heard of, which ended up being ideal because I wasn’t concerned about seeing a certain band at a specific time. Instead, I could just stumble upon whoever crossed my path. This made for some delightful discoveries along the way, like accidentally catching the sultry songstress Nikki Talley (and her band) in action or hearing the rhythmic beats bellowing from the stage when UMALALI played. You could end up just about anywhere and have the opportunity to hear some fantastic music.
One of the most notable performances for me was seeing Arrested Development, a blast from the past. They were extremely entertaining, mainly, because their music conjures some old-school memories for me from the early 90’s, but also because they just put on a really stupendous show. I couldn’t take my eyes off one of the back-up singers who had an amazing amount of energy, she stole the show as she flipped and danced and bounced all over the stage. Another memorable musical experience came from one of my new favorite performers, Langhorne Slim. If you recall, I got to see Langhorne Slim when they came to Boone, NC a couple months ago, so getting to see him again (and so soon) was a special treat, especially since this show was 10x better than the one I saw at Boone Saloon!
I’m extremely thankful that Friday’s flood didn’t stick around the entire weekend. Had mother nature not intervened and bestowed upon us brighter days on Saturday and Sunday, it may have ended up being a waterlogged weekend. I can only imagine how it could have soured me for future festivals. I’m glad that’s not the case, though, because I enjoyed my first overnight festival experience. I mean, what’s not to love about a family friendly grassroots music festival filled with dancing, friends, food, and fun on a farm out in the middle of nowhere in Pittsboro, NC?!? Yeah, I don’t know, you tell me 😀 I enjoyed it so much that we are already planning on doing another one called Floyd Fest with friends this coming summer!
What’s your take on music festivals? Love ’em? Hate ’em?
My name is Jessica and I’m a wedding, engagement and lifestyle photographer based in Boone, NC. I’m known for capturing the spirit of the folks I photograph–the expressions, gestures, and details that are outward expressions of our innermost selves. I love working with couples, individuals and families who are committed to travel, adventure, and laid-back lifestyles. If you think we might be kindreds, I invite you to connect with me!