The campground opens on Thursday and the music starts on Friday, and the prior Sunday is the earliest anyone is allowed in the campground. Many people (including me and the friends I was joining) pick their volunteer jobs specifically because those jobs require Sunday arrival. I've mentioned every year that the various campsites are crazily elaborate (Buddha Shebang is "elaborate", not "crazy elaborate.") I now know how that's done - they arrive on Sunday and drive pickup trucks full of gear (and pianos, pool tables, lifeguard stands, etc.) to their site.
That was all of Sunday. I waited in line for my volunteer badge, then waited in line in my car to be let into the campground. Most years, you can drive right to your site. This year, the ground was soggy, so you could only drive on certain areas. For us, that meant parking about one hundred yards away and humping our gear for the last bit. By the time we'd unloaded and set up our site, had a hoagie and a couple of beers for dinner, and played a little music, we were ready to crawl into our tents and crash.
Monday through Thursday were work days. I was on a work crew of maybe 15 people to set up the merchandise tent. The big "circus tent" had already been set up, and we had to assemble and arrange the shelves and tables, close it off with netting, put up fans and lights - and try to get everything as level as possible on what's a farmer's field for the other 51 weeks of the year. It wasn't backbreaking, but it *was* just plain hard work. There was beer and music with friends every night, and I'm not complaining.
My biggest take-away was seeing the absolutely boggling amount of volunteer effort that goes into making Fest happen. And without that, Fest *doesn't* happen. Our group was just the Merch Tent. If you came for the day, you'd think "ok, they're selling t-shirts and coffee mugs in there", and never give it another thought. But a whole team of people worked for four solid days to make that happen. And there were other teams for every stage, teams for grounds, camping, parking, electrical, sound, etc., etc. Someone told me there were about 2,000 volunteers in all.
I mentioned that we couldn't drive to our site on Sunday because of wet ground. It then rained hard overnight on Monday and again on Tuesday. That turned parts of the wet ground into a mucky quagmire, and I started hearing the term "mud-fest", which apparently is legendary among longtime Fest-goers. Wednesday and Thursday were sunny, and the ground dried some - though many places were still boggy. The long term forecast changed every day. Sometimes it called for rain on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Other days the forecast was sun.
Darling Wife (due to arrive for the start of Fest on Thursday) would have the option to bail from a mud-fest. But I was committed to be there until move-out on Monday (which a mud-fest could make into a full-blown nightmare.)
(To be continued)