Wakarusa Music Festival: Day 1

The first day we spent a lot of time in the car. After arriving and being so ready to rush into the grounds and start partying, we were held in the check-in lot for hours while storms passed over the area. Later, I met someone who said she'd arrived late Thursday night and didn't get to leave the lot until Friday morning. 

This blog was originally published on nodepression.com.

The anticipation is palpable. Dreams of what it will be like and memories of what it was become the subject of conversations held to pass the time. Minutes become hours and you settle in for the ride.

The car is packed with camping gear, food and fun. You struggle to find a comfortable position for a nap, because you still have miles to go. The shared discomfort of the road trip makes for memorable moments, and colorful characters brighten up your stops along the way.

You finally arrive. But lightning strikes once you reach the lot and you’re stuck waiting in the car. As if you weren’t already excited, it seems the sky bids you wait even longer for your reward.
Waiting for check-in

Extended thunderstorm warnings hold you there for over five hours. Once you make it inside, all you want to do is see a show, but tents have to be readied and the car's wildly overturned cargo must be tamed. Unpredictable showers leave you clinging to shelter and wondering how the night will progress.

The tents are pitched and you're ready to head toward the music. But it seems Mother Nature has another test for you: walkways so muddied and trampled on, you're stepping into pits up to your ankles. The shoes you thought would protect you hold out for a while, but eventually there's nowhere safe left to step and you just give in to the madness.
Oh, the mud.
All the frustrations and irritations of the day weigh you down, making you question your desire to stay through the weekend. But then you hear the first notes of that first song, and that first dance shakes off all the craziness that has been swirling around your mind. You remember why you came and why you always come: the freedom and pure joy you feel sharing that moment with yourself and the people who surround you. Because even through the rain, the mud, and the muck, there are still many others who have come to bask in the sweetness of the sound.

Nothing will deter them. Not rain, nor wind, nor the "bloop, bloop, bloop" of feet pulling up out of the mud. They bring out the ponchos, the umbrellas, the bare feet—whatever it takes to make it to the stage. This is why they came. This is why you came, and nothing can keep you from your joy.
STS9, Thursday night, 5/30
All the smiles in the midst of the storms are a striking reminder of what makes this place special, and the power of music to bring people together, no matter the circumstances.

In the end, however, the day has been just a little too much for you, so you head to bed to get rested and ready to rock the rest of the weekend.

Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4


Thandiwe Ogbonna is a music writer gone rogue.
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