Author: Campbell, Bruce

The Temporary Village

For about a week next month, there will be a new village in Nevada County. Like grebes returning to next, bluegrass pickers will begin amassing the weekend before Father’s Day, and gradually, tents and RVs will begin cropping up around the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

The energy level will begin to build, and the influx of bluegrass pilgrims will increase day by day, and by Thursday, Gate 4 will be busy, busy, busy. Those who arrive on Friday and Saturday will worry about where to park and camp, but they will find spots – they always do.

It all looks accidental, but it’s anything but. Extraordinary amounts of work, by dozens and dozens of people enable this annual temporary village. But they don’t MAKE the village – the people – the pilgrims – do. They will be all sorts, these people, from solitary pickers to extended families. Some will bounce around like sprites from camp to camp, and others will stake a claim to a location and pretty much hang out there for the duration of the village.

This village has no real government – no titular head. It has some municipal utilities – sanitation services, water, ice – even a police force of sorts. With only a lifespan of 7-10 days, it doesn’t need much else. There is an operating management structure, but its members are pilgrims like everyone else. It has some production and commerce – folks make and sell some crafts, and food, too!

When the original Woodstock Festival took place, folks crowed about a perfect utopia of a half a million people, with no government or structure, just people being peaceful, loving and gentle. But it wasn’t a real city, or a real society. It had no housing, no real services, didn’t produce anything - it was just a festival – a temporary village, just like the one in Grass Valley.

I don’t have any illusions about the CBA Father’s Day Festival as an example of a Utopian ideal, but for the time it’s there, it’s pretty darn close. We’re not changing the world maybe, but we are changing lives. And speaking of crowing, let’s direct the credit to its rightful recipients.

First and foremost, credit goes to the travelers, the attendees, the bluegrass nuts who go every year. YOU are the reason this village happens. And behind the scenes, there are the volunteers who enable the village each year – they ensure there’s a place, and amenities, entertainment, food, drink, crafts – stuff that appear to spring up by magic, but it’s actually hard work. The cast of attendees and volunteers varies a bit from year to year – folks come on board, some drop off, but there are an awful lot of repeaters, too.

I once described the Father’s Day Festival in an interview as “Disneyland for Bluegrass Fans”, and it’s true in some respects, but there is one big difference: Disneyland is available year round. The Father’s Day Festivals is more like a flower that blooms for a brief period every year, and that makes it special. I for one can’t wait for this year’s blooming!

Posted:  5/23/2012

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