Jugglers. Jokers. Mid-day tokers. Free hugs and expensive beers. Glow sticks. Kiddish laughter … feel good … bright lights, pretty colors. Happy! No … really happy! Was she naked? KARL!!!? What the fuck just happened? Circus! Circus! Dead heads, weekend hippies, and peace in the forest..always in the forest.
It’s been days since the Rothbury Festival and my head is still swimming, reality seems like a far off place, some strange world where businessmen catch the five o-clock train and minivan moms attend P.T.A meetings and recite the daily chores. Though me, I’m still lost in the early morning sun after a night of laughing and dancing. But here comes the day, and with it a brief moment to gather my mind before next years Rothbury.
With a crowd luring main stage line-up of The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, String Cheese Incident, G-Love and Special Sauce, Willie Nelson and Jackie Greene, Rothbury managed to bring in 19,000 festivalgoers to the gates by its opening hour. Still, this dedicated group was only the first of many; thousands more would follow by days end, anticipating first day performances by Disco Biscuits, Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam, Toubab Krewe and Cold War Kids.
Rothbury festival grounds mingled through beat-down forest trails, swaying hammocks, beer vendors, recycled art, deep fried food and porta-johns, gentle breezes of fresh lake air, landfill/compost/recycling drop-offs, random circus shows, a giant soda-can man and four stages of live music with an untold amount of secret small-stage performances hidden throughout the grounds.
Outside festival grounds lay the beaten sun-sourced campers, spawned out in a weekend cityscape of tent canopies and ’60s shaggin’ wagons. In these campgrounds roam the wanderers, wheelers, dealers and the lure of every substance you can imagine. Up, down, sideways, somewhere, nowhere, and just plain drunk, if you want it…the campgrounds have it.
Looking back, tired, hungry, confused and somehow alive, it’s hard not to reconsider the things you’ve come back to. Like many of the goers said, “maybe it would be better to just stay at Rothbury forever?” Ahhh, how nice it would be, to stay jiggle jangling in the aimless woods all year round, dazing at the drifting, passing crowds and concerns, dancing, swinging, singing along. Sadly, reality always has its way of creeping back into every brief timeless moment.
So, like most things worth holding onto, Rothbury has slipped on by another year, before I, or anyone could manage to get a lasting grasp. And for those who were there, memories of Rothbury will only become more muddled and mixed, blending and mingling till the entire festival is best remembered with a single moment, captured by your favorite song and a good feeling. A million words could describe Rothbury, but the live music does it best.
Till next year, be good Rothbury, you’ll be missed.