When you start packing for a music festival...
Your mind begins to open to the excitement and anticipation of listening to music, sleeping under the stars, and sharing the moment with everyone around you. It's an experience that invites you to let go and be yourself. It's a space that encourages you to be free. It's a place where you can smile and say hello to everyone around because you are there together enjoying all that is.
This was our third year taking a team and setting up a booth at Backwoods Music Festival on Mulberry Mountain. We came in with a crew on Wednesday to set up, crossing our fingers that it wouldn't rain and knowing inevitably that it would. We were getting our tents set up, meeting our festival neighbors (fellow food, art, and merch vendors), and settling in to the vibes that were already growing with good energy.
The next morning grey clouds swirled around us for hours before the rain finally broke through. A "rain vortex" someone said from the Grilled Cheese Incident. We watched people arriving to the festival while dodging waterfalls dripping into our booth and the grassy area around us turn first to mud then standing water.
When it rains at a festival, the only way to move through it is to flow with it.
You keep dry as much as you can and laugh about being there in the middle of it. The rain came and went and came back again several times on Thursday, but we made it through. The music started to play and more and more people arrived. Everyone getting ready for what was to come.
Friday and Saturday flowed in harmony. We would catch a few hours of rest in the early morning and get up in time to make the coffee and open up the booth to play music and be there moving within it all. The days moved fast while the nights opened up with even more expectant energy. We watched the sun followed by the crescent moon passing over the sky to set in the west beyond the ferris wheel spinning with light. At different times of the night and day we would close up shop and set out to the enjoy the festival with everyone.
We had tea parties with the Mad Hatter, got into a corncob eating contest, watched our neighbor Jerry blow glass, ate beignets at midnight, took it easy at the speakeasy, bet our knickknacks and prized possessions at Blackjack Frick Frack, and rode a neon frog.
We danced backstage, onstage, left of stage, right of stage, and everywhere in between.
We saw mind-inspiring visuals made by our friend Rex for Flintwick's mind-warping set (see above). We hollered and "swallered" with Arkansauce, danced at the silent disco, ate tacos, and squeezed limes for margaritas. We shared meaningful conversations with people who we just met. We found mules by a waterfall and then met the man who rode them there just passing through from Texas. Each moment offers you a different adventure if you let it. And we did.
Sunday was the last day before we packed up Monday morning. Sundays feel different at a festival as everyone starts to ground and prepare to travel back or travel forward to the next place, or stay still and see what awaits. The vibes are still strong as people come together to make the most out of the time that is left.
We opened up our booth and invited anyone to come play a set, freestyle, or share their art with us. A “renegade booth” that abandoned sales for music and good vibes for an afternoon. We had a full hour from Snugg bringing a bounce to the tent. Listen to the set recorded live for some fun. Then we had Wurrd come freestyle with Trenton slinging truth with a beat. Two queens from Anu Crown finished up the afternoon with words that made us be easy and laugh freely. All the while a clown performed, a flow artist hooped while another drew, and everything moved as it would.
These hours were some of our favorite parts of the whole festival and we still feel the connection held by all in that moment breathing and dancing together under the sun.
When we take a team to Backwoods, we love sharing what we do and how we do it with anyone that comes by our booth. It's a true team effort that goes into making it all happen. From planning out what we'll do at the festival with our vending space to packing everything up on the final day, without everyone working together, it wouldn't be the same.
Madison made the customized flip trips for the festival to give away to people as a way to remember the experience and talk about Nature Backs. Shelby made an amazing one-of-a-kind tapestry that we got to give to Jake who won it in the free raffle and happens to be a content creator living the dream. JP constructed a platform for Jose's idea of a Giving Tree that was in constant circulation with anything and everything you could imagine. Trenton set up speakers and a space for artists to DJ and freestyle. Lucas kept us grounded and Matt led breathing exercises in the sunshine. Aaron got to be at his first music festival with a media pass to get backstage for the best shots. Flying his drone at night to catch the glowing forest lights, Aaron was (as always) a constant source of present energy. All of us together created a space for anyone and everyone to stop by and say hello. We danced, laughed, cooked food, shared coffee, got our feet dirty, and worked together to see the music we wanted to see and share our energy.
If you've never been to a music festival, know that every one will be a different experience but all will be built with love and community at the center. Festivals are places to learn how to spin fire or flow with hoops, to play music, dress up, practice yoga, share art, let go, and be yourself without judgment. They are spaces where you can let your true light shine. You can say "I love you" to people you just met and know that you mean it because love is everywhere.
Backwoods is always a special experience for us. We meet so many friends who become family as the starry nights turned into the mornings. We find inspiration in the lights, music, art, and all the bright energy that people share with us and everyone around. It’s truly an honor to be part of what makes Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain so special—a big old party tucked away in the hills of Arkansas.
We're already getting excited for next year.
See you there.
We danced, laughed, cooked food, shared coffee, got our feet dirty, and worked together to see the music we wanted to see and share our energy.