LIB ’19 Vignette

J. Grant StaffordSpring '19 Festival TourLeave a Comment

5/9/19. LIB.

“Are you going to Kate Wolf?” Spiro asked.

“No one knows what açaí is there. I felt like I was back at Earthdance in ’03,” I replied.

“Yeah, it’s a slow festival,” Stefania, Spiro’s youngest daughter agreed.

Spiro’s Gyros was set up at the Thunder Stage food court at LIB this year. They had been attending LIB for almost as long as I had, which was ten years. They had been doing festivals in general for at least twenty years.

I remembered, in that moment of talking with Stefania and Spiro, walking the food rows at festivals in ’04 and seeing the blue & white banner on Spiro’s tent. Yesterday Spiro and Stefania were making the rounds, visiting other food vendors. They made their way down the food row at Lightning Stage. They visited Lydia, and then Ruby from Get Fried Rice, who they’d known for decades.

Get Fried Rice was an institution at fairs and festivals. The lore is that Ruby inherited the business decades ago, and before him the creator was an original food vendor at Oregon Country Fair.

After chatting with Ruby and giving hugs, Spiro and Stefania returned to their booth, where the rest of the family and crew was prepping for falafels, gyros and greek salads. I could feel that Stefania understood why I’d made the choice to not return to KWMF, but I also felt that Spiro was maybe disappointed. The festival had been around a very long time and it was one of his hometown favorites.

After Spiro left, I took a moment to look out the front of our booth. While I rested my elbows on the tiki bar, I observed the golden hour. The early arrivals were here, their tired bodies with lively spirits lounging in small groups on the lawn under the shade of large willow trees. Not too far off, the Lightning Stage continued growing. The build crew tending to its construction all day and all night.

“These guys know what they’re doing. They know more about laying out a festival than any of us,” I said to Eddie who was there with a booth for Kung Fu Tonic.

“That’s true. Very true,” he replied. “Here, I have something for you.” He handed me a small black pouch. “It’s seasoning salt I made. Try it out. Let me know what you think.”

“Thanks,” later that night I would be seasoning red lentil soup with it.

Eddie had a rad bike with him and I told him so. “I know,” he affirmed, “it’s my friend’s. He’s letting me borrow it. It goes up to forty mile per hour.”

It was all black with big fat tires. It looked like the offspring of a bike-builder that had know concern of the final price tag. With the new festival location being completely flat ground it would make an excellent cruiser. Although it was nothing compared to the ATVs, motorcycles, and kubotas that the productions crew employed.

Dressed almost in all black, production was a team of producers and their support staff. Usually traveling in groups of two to three ATVs, they were everywhere and anywhere they were called upon to be; constantly figuring out logistics, improvising, executing, and problem-solving.

LIB had always impressed with the balance of art, expression, and music blended with construction and power tools. It was like a village with everyone finding their niche role to serve in. The communal goal being to pull-off the big festival for 25,000 souls to have an amazing, maybe challenging, and maybe transformative 5 nights of art, music and freedom. However as much one allowed oneself to dive in and away from “normal” life.

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