"One Wet Winfield"
Another year at Winfield. Just when I thought I had the routine down pat, everything changed.
The weather was perfect! Not too hot. No rain. No wind. I could not ask for better weather.
So, what's with the title of this article? "One Wet Winfield" ?
Well, the week before the festival, it rained 9 inches in one day. The entire campground flooded and was evacuated on Friday morning. Word went out that campers would be allowed back in Sunday night or Monday morning.
But, the water didn't go down and the ground didn't dry out. So, arrangements were made at Winfield Lake (really a large, beautiful reservoir), in Oxford, and at the stock yard barns.
About 13,000 people went to the lake. Stages 5, 6 and 7, and a new stage, "The Flood Stage," were there. Most of the other campers went to Oxford. Front Porch Radio was there.
School buses were used for free shuttles.
Many, many congratulations go to the management of the festival for their resourcefulness and adaptability.
Many, many kudos go to the campers for their resourcefulness and adaptability.
True, some people didn't come to the festival this year because of the camping situation and concern over the weather. They missed out on a truly wonderful time!
I heard that the accommodations in Oxford were wonderful and the campers there were treated like royalty.
I know that the accommodations at the lake were spectacular. We watched the sun come up over the lake and go down over the lake. There are many peninsulas and bays. Camping was available on both the north and south sides of the lake, though a drive over the dam was required to go back and forth.
There was no lack of talent or appreciative audiences at the various stages. There were free showers, some craft booths, a cafe at the Marina on the south side of the lake, and swimming on the north side of the lake.
There were T-shirts for sale at the lake, emblazoned with "Winfield Swim Team" and various slogans advertising the Flood Stage and about being refugees and surviving the flood ("I can't. I'm swimming to Winfield"). Some people even brought small boats and made full use of the lake.
Some people managed to find their usual campground buddies. Some didn't, but made new contacts and new friends. They bloomed where they were planted.
The WVA Voice, the daily festival paper, printed a map of the lake, listed which camps were on each peninsula, included a shuttle schedule and the Stage 5 line up in addition to the regular four stages at the fair ground and photos of the instrument contest winners.
But, it was a little spooky at the fair grounds. There were no gates to the west campground. There were no tents, or smoke from the fires, or people bustling around in the campgrounds. It felt like a ghost town. The nights, after the stages shut down, were incredibly quiet there.
There were no overflow crowds at any of the official stages. There were empty slots in the various vendor areas. There were no major lines at any of the food booths.
Some people preferred to stay at the campground, jam with their friends and neighbors, and enjoy the music on the local stages, rather than take the half-hour shuttle to the fair ground.
There was talk about how the entire festival should relocate at the lake. There certainly is enough room out there for all the stages and all the campers. The terrain could be used as natural amphitheaters. I even heard a rumor that the City of Winfield will build an amphitheater there.
There was some talk about camping at the lake again during next year's festival. I'm sure some people will do so. Last year, all the camping areas at the fair grounds were full and space to park or set up a tent became a serious issue. Camping at the lake, or in Oxford, is a viable option for those people who don't mind commuting to the festival. And, it will help ease the crowded conditions in the campground at the festival.
As lovely as the lake is, and as much fun as it was to camp out there, I think I'll go back to the Walnut Grove next year. I like being within walking distance of all the stages and all the vendors. It's more crowded and it's smokier, but it's also cozier and more convenient. I like lying in the back of my truck, waking up to the music from Stage 2.
But, I'll miss the sunsets over the lake.
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