This post has been a long time coming. What seems like a lifetime ago, back in July, I was in Saskatchewan. In my opinion, Saskatchewan is a little slice of magic, a little gem in the otherwise flat, desolate Canadian prairie. It stands between Alberta and Manitoba as a vision of what is possible on the prairie. Take note neighbouring provinces I say!
It all started at Ness Creek. I arrived the day before the festival started looking to volunteer in exchange for my entrance fee. Volunteering really made the festival what it was. I had a great time, met amazing people, and took away wonderful memories. A friend once told me that going to Burning Man every year is like going home to see the familiy for xmas. I really got a sense of that at Ness Creek. For the week I was there, I was part of a family. A familiy that meets every year in the same place at the same time to create something together. I experienced a wonderful sense of belonging and participation.
The whole experience was made more intense by the fact that I was in the height of a recent spell of depression. I didn’t realise it at the time, but afterwards, after the depression suddenly lifted, I now see it more clearly. The intense emtional experience followed by the harsh solitude of the open road was a very tough transition. I decided not to go to Burning Man this year because I think the transition would be even more intense.
After Ness Creek I ended up at the Forget Summer Arts Festival. These were two very different festivals. Ness Creek is 4’000 young party goers gathering in the forest in a drug fuelled party that goes on well through 6am. At Forget (pronounced in French, like forjay), the main stage finished at 11pm on Saturday night. Forget was a small festival, a few hundred people, put on by members of the local community. It was really fascinating to get an inside view of how the event was produced.
I caught the last year at Forget, the festival has become too much work for the organisers. I really felt that during my time there. People seemed to be straining to keep up with all the tasks they had set themselves. It was an admirable effort and a great event. I also believe it could also have been half as much work, but that’s a post for another day.
Here’s a few snaps and some tales from Ness Creek. I didn’t take any pictures at Forget. To start with, here’s the view of the creek from the bridge. Ness Creek really is a beautiful spot.
That picture was taken from this bridge.
I spent a lot of time with Mark and Amy, father and daughter. Amy is very proud of having built this jeep out of several other jeeps for her dad. Girl power!
This photo gives you a bit of a feel for the festival during daylight hours. This is the main stage.
Here’s my friend Malika on stage.
Here’s me earning my keep as a volunteer.
I heard a Scottish fiddle onstage. Given my volunteering status, I had a backstage pass. So I went backstage afterwards to meet the girls from Pacific Curls, two Kiwis and a Scot. Lo and behold, Sarah Beattie, the Scottish fiddler, went to school with my cousins in a small Scottish town called Inverurie. Here I was at a festival in the Canadian wilderness, some 3’681 miles from Inverurie, and I meet someone who went to school with my cousins, amazing.
Here’s Sarah and the gals on stage.
Finally, here’s a picture of the sun setting (or was it rising?) over the car park. This relays a little of the magic that I felt at Ness Creek.