Thousands of One, a progressive band from Ithaca, NY, had its first gig at a maximum-security youth prison. Imagine the sullen faces, the barbed wire and the anti-septic smell. Now compare this to the atmosphere of its most recent show. The large, brightly colored tent is full of people young and old, dancing, smiling and singing along. A child no older than three or four darts around the many swaying bodies, laughing joyfully. A young couple holding hands weaves through the crowd to get closer to the stage. Even an elderly man in a wheelchair is moving to the beat.
This is the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, a four-day, all-ages event that takes place biannually in Silk Hope, NC and draws revelers from all over the state. Because of the relatively low price and unique experience, going to Shakori has become something of a right of passage for many students here at East.
“It was just…amazing,” said junior Casey Smith of her second time attending Shakori. Smith had also been to the festival’s spring counterpart, held earlier this year.
The event is indeed hard to put into words. Perhaps this difficulty is because every person who attends experiences it differently. Some prefer to spend only the day there, walking around and sampling the food, music and demonstrations. Others choose to camp out, either in cars or tents, and be a part of the Shakori nightlife. These individuals may have to forfeit their right to a good night’s sleep — things can get quite loud and stay that way deep into the night.
Junior Dylan Peterson and several of his friends got the best of both worlds.
“We headed out around midnight on Saturday,” he said, referring to himself and his caravan, which included fellow juniors Smith, Maggie Meshnick, and Nadia Agourram.
Shakori strongly encourages carpooling and grants free parking to any car containing four people or more. This reward is just one of the festival’s many green initiatives, which also includes solar power and a leave-no-trace ideology. There is a multitude of information available to interested festival-goers.
Overall, Shakori truly has something for everyone. With a wide array of music, a beautiful setting and a welcoming sense of community and hospitality, this event is a must for anyone who appreciates the celebration of life’s simple joys. Mark your calendars for the next Grassroots festival, slated for the long weekend of April 19-22, 2012.