I took a morning walk around the campgrounds and the general area Wednesday (Sept. 18, 2013) at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Ks. The campgrounds are packed and for the most part all set up. Workers are still putting the final touches on stages. Food vendors, craft vendors and others are still setting up.
It's kind of like Christmas Eve.
The anticipation in the air is electric.
The festival itself is 24 hours away. That is when things really get going, but there is plenty going on already.
The festival itself has been gearing up for weeks. People have been camping for about a week. There seems to be a trend toward groups camping together, perhaps a few families, with a few campers, as opposed to the individual camper. This is probably more efficient for all involved, but it makes it a bit more of a challenge for people not affilliated with a group.
The music has been going on at all hours for days now.
Impromptu jam sesssions spring up at the drop of a note. But there are also more organized sessions. There are a few camps that have planned sessions, while others welcome anyone to come and play.
There has been a bluegrass gospel session each night, which is being run by a family that will also be performing a the festival itself.
At this one, anyone can join in.
There are other sessions like it. Some have themes and some just have music.
There are also several stages set up around the campgrounds. The new song stage, or stage 11, is in the Pecan Grove and offers musicians a chance to play new songs. Some great new tunes there. Begining tonight they will start at 11 p.m.
There is also stage 5, which has not really got going yet. This is a stage where bands play. Sometimes these bands get invited to play at the festival.
There are two main campgrounds. The Pecan Grove is the most famous (or should I say infamous). This is a place for partiers and the music goes all night.
The other campground is the "Walnut Grove," or the West campground. It is a it more family oriented and not as loud. There are more motor homes and big campers in the Walnut area.
Even with that stereotype there are many exceptions.
I have enjoyed watching the jam sessions and late night performances. It is interesting to watch people who want to play. Some just enter the circle, sit down and start playing. Others hang out on the edges for awhile and enter the group eventually. Some just enjoy hanging out on the edges and play along as they feel like.
The campgrounds are an experience in themselves. one could have a great time just hanging out and listening to the music and not even go to the main performances.
Some campsites are very elaborate with great themes and decorations. Others, like mine, are just a plain simple camper.
The weather looks great. A small chance of rain Friday, but the forecast is for great weather in general. It may be a little warmer than many of us would like, but I would always take that over being a little colder than anyone would like.
It's Christmas Eve at the Walnut Valley Festival. It's all set to go. Just ready for Santa Claus to show up with his fiddle.
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