By Margot Esquandolas
I truly don’t believe Harvest Festival 2013 could have gone any better. Making the 12-hour haul from Chicago to the warmth of Ozark, Arkansas was totally worth the three days spent atop of that plateau. At about midnight on Thursday night three of my close friends and I began the night cruise down lakeshore; our sights were set on Mulberry Mountain. Tired but too excited to sleep, we made it through the night hitting the beautiful southern scenery as the sun began to wake from the horizon. We had our warm apple pie moonshine and our winter clothes packed, prepared for a perfect fall weekend. And that was exactly what we got.
We hit a winding mountain road scattered with scenic overlooks, taking us straight in to Yonder Mountain String Band’s festival. When we reached the gates the workers were all helpful and friendly, ripe ambassadors for that good ole’ Southern Hospitality. We snagged our tickets from Will Call and were escorted to our camp spot. We hopped out of the car, cracked a beer and met the neighbors. Immediately after we had set up camp and sat down in our camping chairs it began to rain. Literally perfect timing. After we had been rained on at every festival all summer long, by October, we were finally prepared for the weather. We put on our rain boots and coats and began exploring. The festival was a perfect mix between a county fair and a family picnic. Let’s just say, had this county fair/family picnic of a festival been a parade, no one’s was letting the rain stop our spirits from climbing.
We were spoiled with two days of Elephant Revival, Railroad Earth, and Yonder Mountain String Band. We also caught Beats Antique, The Everyone Orchestra, Gangstagrass, Greensky Bluegrass, and Tedeschi Trucks Band, with so many other smaller names in between. As a group we all were a little nervous going into the festival, worrying about “too much bluegrass.” Boy, were we mistaken. Harvest Festival was a perfect dose of bluegrass with other genres sprinkled throughout. Tedeschi Trucks brought out the blues on Friday night while Railroad Earth strayed further from bluegrass, settling into more of a jammy sound.
The weather was perfect the rest of the weekend. We needed a little rain one day one to stoke our appreciation for the sun that followed the rest of the weekend. Most of the people my friends and I talked to were from the South and truly did have a Southern Charm. Everyone was so appreciative and nice. I didn’t hear or meet one rude person at the festival. And with only a couple thousand people in attendance, it was a family affair. Killer music, good people, beautiful weather, and amazing vibes. If there is one festival I must attend this next season, it’s definitely Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Festival. Rage on Harvest Fest.