What happens when you arrive at your destination expecting it to be warm and sunny and instead it’s 45 degrees? And raining? Oh…and you planned to camp. But you forgot your tent!!!!
You could say I was a little unprepared - or at least underprepared - for the second stop on BardCraft’s festival vendor tour. But over the weekend I realized so many similarities to touring with a band; in essence: the show must go on! I’ve been through some pretty crazy things on the road before and all those experiences and memories come back to me whenever I’m in a tight spot or not sure how to make something work. And this time things did work out just fine and Appaloosa Festival had a happy and successful ending.
By way of it’s beginning….
I first remember meeting members of the band called Scythian over the summer of 2013. We were both playing at the same Irish festival in Dublin, OH. It was late - almost the wee hours of the morning! - on the last night of the event when we found ourselves sharing tunes and stories at the hotel where all the performers go for after-hours hang outs. I first got to know the dynamic duo of Alex and Dan Fedoryka and then their sister Larissa who plays, among other things, an electric cello on stage. These siblings make up the core of a highly entertaining group based in Washington D.C. that blends their Ukrainian heritage with energetic Celtic tunes and other folk music. They tour internationally and have a loyal and enthusiastic fan base that have followed the band to many festivals of various genres across the years.
In 2015, Scythian forged new ground for themselves as a band and as a family when they started their own festival in the mountains of Virginia over labor day weekend. With the support of their fans and the friendships they have forged with countless other bands from their time on the road, Appaloosa Festival was born and is going strong in it’s third year now.
I was delighted to be able to join in these festivities for the first time this year and honored to do so as one of Appaloosa’s vendors. It was a long drive from Nashville - almost nine hours away once you added a few stops along the way. But, at the last minute, one of my brothers was kind enough to offer to come along for the weekend. Poor fellow! He had no idea what he was getting into!
One of the fun facts about Appaloosa Festival is that it’s held at this beautifully scenic location - one Skyline Ranch and Resort, a gem nestled in the mountainous splendor of the Shenandoah Valley. Lots of attendees come and stay in their camping mode of choice - there were copious amounts of RVs in the nearby woods and tents in the fields.
My brother and I planned to bring a tent of our own and a few other camping supplies and we would arrive late the night before the BardCraft booth needed to be set up and ready to sell in the morning. If there is anyone we could possibly hope to blame, it would be the weather. Some crazy freak storms created by Hurricane Harvey had just shown up in Tennessee as we were heading out and, long story short, we accidentally left our tent!!! We decided not to turn back for it and have to hazard our way through the dangerous storm again and we figured we could potentially camp in my car or hang hammocks in the woods, etc.
However, we arrived in Virginia to find the storms had followed us! The rain had grown lighter and mistier but had dropped the temperature to a startling degree. There was nothing to do but suck it up and find a way to sleep in the car while still keeping the leather goods in there, safe and dry…? But no! Good friends came through in a pinch and found an extra camping tent that someone had brought and there even was a borrowed sweatshirt for my brother, Jedi. We made it through that first night by the grace of our friend’s over-preparedness and good planning.
The next day ended up being cool and misty. Regardless of the crazy weather, all the many fans and attendees camping at the resort bundled up anyway and came out from the woods and the fields to enjoy the music and festivities - and some hot chocolate too! ;) Funny enough, in contrast, the next day dawned warm and sunny and immediately was the perfect weather for any outdoor activity.
For the duration of the festival, the BardCraft booth was set up kitty corner to the main stage and the slightly smaller secondary stage. I was able to hear every single act that played there in alternating sets. I always love seeing new bands live and I had been listening to the group Humming House for a while and was delighted to be able to hear some of my favorite songs from across the way while watching over the booth. There really was no bad seat in the house, so to speak. This made the conflict of wanting to enjoy the musical aspect of the festival vs. running the booth so easy to harmonize. No pun intended. ;)
Another sweet dimension of the weekend was seeing the amount of children always running about in the rain and then the sunshine. Upon meeting some of them, I found that many were relatives of the Fedorykas - little nephews, nieces and cousins all enjoying the event that had been brought to them in what amounted to their own backyard. Groups of kids would come through the booth (touching just about every single item on the tables!) and it was entertaining to hear all the exclamations and excitement about specific designs or the key necklaces, etc. And no matter the weather or the temperature, kids always seem able to enjoy the adventure!
In parting and on the subject of interactions at the booth: leather is something that I have always found so interesting to handle, to run my fingers over the grooves of the carvings and feel the unique details of the grain itself. I always encourage and allow people to try on and handle the pieces they are interested in. The tactile element of leather is a huge part of it’s appeal so it’s fun to see people of any age enjoying that in my booth!
Next up was the Middle Tennessee Highland Games back home - only five days later! Stay tuned for more...