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Pickathon 2019 - Finding Solace

We have held off on discussing this year’s Pickathon for a couple of reasons; 1. we didn’t know how to mentally process the tragedy that took place and 2. we didn’t know the appropriate way to approach the conflicted feelings after a music festival and the sorrow that came from it. For those who do not know, after Pickathon two arborists (Brad Swet and Brandon Blackmore) assigned to disassemble the most iconic art installation at the festival heartbreakingly fell to their death due to an equipment malfunction.

This was our first year attending Pickathon and it exceeded it’s reputation for a community oriented and family friendly environment. I feel that it is important to point out that this festival is a tight knit community that utilizes the skills of passionate people who have a mutual love for the the festival. Pickathon is not your run of the mill festivals. It gives you hope that there are still people out there doing something for the love of music and humanity.

When you arrive at the festival grounds you have this Field of Dreams moment where something magical was built in the middle of nowhere and people just gravitate to it. It makes you wonder how this Utopia in the middle of a forest can logistically make sense. It took me a while to figure out the lay of the land but in essence you are just walking through the woods (or farm) with other people who either know where they are going or are just content in being where they are. I have heard so many things about this magical and almost mythical festival but I had a hard time picturing it until I saw it with my own eyes.

What do you mean you need to bring your own beer cup? You trade a wooden token for a wooden fork/spoon and reusable bowl that you then return for a wooden token and repeat for each meal? But it completely works! Someone came up with an idea to offer affordable, delicious food at a festival and not produce waste and they just made it happen… what a novel idea!

While walking from stage to stage you quickly realize that this is more than just a music festival. This is a place where families can go and feel safe to be themselves and essentially do what they want to do. Since Pickathon’s genesis I’ve heard about it’s family friendly nature and I decided to bring my wife and 1 year old son along for a day. It didn’t disappoint! there were kids everywhere!  I saw “free range kids” selling customized drawings of your spirit animal for a dollar, other kids selling other forms of art, and even selling fruit! There were craft stations in the same tent where kids could also go up on stage and perform!

It’s the type of festival that allows you to fall asleep in a hammock while Lucius or Nathaniel Rateliff are playing in very close proximity and you quickly wake up and wonder why are you trying to sleep during Nathaniel Rateliff!?! It is also the first festival I have ever seen where you look into the woods and there are tents and hammocks filling the gaps in the forrest.

The fact that this festival caters to families is nice and all but the music is it’s true bread and butter! Every stage is offering it’s own intimate experience.  Unlike many other festivals, you are not fighting to see the artists… I am not sure if it is the number of festival goers allowed on the grounds or just that people are more courteous. But none of the stages seemed to be overly packed. Which allows for a generally more pleasant experience. I felt as if I was less worried about dealing with the crowd and more able to take in the music and the nature that surrounded me.

The loss of Brad and Brandon will be a dark cloud for this festival for years to come but hopefully Pickathon will be able to find solace through it's strong sense of family and community to honor rather than mourn.

Please show your support by donating to the Brad Swet and Brandon Blackmore memorial fund

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