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The Sasquatch Music Festival Survival Guide

May 8, 2015
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In a land where grown men dress as glittering fairies and countless, identical girls sport denim cut offs with flowery head bands, I held hands with a stranger over a particularly sad XX song.

The night was dark and lonely – I had lost my new friends somewhere on the Gorge’s great hill, misplacing their barely familiar faces amongst the hundreds that stared past me towards the glowing stage.

The band playing was the haunting, glorious XX and since they were too mesmerizing to walk away from despite my stark loneliness, I stayed until a stranger beside me reached out his hand – he too, had lost his friends. And so for one sad song and for four small minutes, I took his hand and wasn’t alone, anymore.

The feeling was foreign, the experience “not something I would do”, but that is the beauty of Sasquatch, a weekend festival where friends are instantaneous, strangers hold hands, neighbours share everything and music is cherished, not heard.

Sasquatch is the one weekend of the year when its easy to turn off your cellphone, ignore the mirror, get over your fear of port-a-potties and enjoy the music. The Gorge campground is a massive tent city where people from all over the West Coast become friends over licence plates and hockey rivalries. It is a judge-free, worry-free weekend – a gem, in a year full of wondering about the future and worrying what people think about it. Plus the backdrop is stunning.

The Sasquatch Music Festival takes place at the beautiful, breathtaking Gorge Amphitheatre near Quincy, Washington which makes for a solid 5 hour drive from Vancouver. Getting there, however, is part of the fun and in true road trip fashion – the getting there is much more enjoyable than the getting home, for obvious hungover reasons.

The concert lineup is realeased in febuary/march of each year and getting your hands on presale tickets is the best bet – in 2013 Sasquatch sold out in 90minutes. The weekend cost of camping and a festival wristband is about 350$, but with gas, food and alcohol it usually rounds out to be about 700$. Pricey, I know … and well worth the “investment!”

need to know Sasquatch 

the Way – travelling from Vancouver or Seattle is quite easy and it is about 5 hours South East. Though the festival always starts Friday at Noon, I find it best to leave Thursday night after work and to arrive in the middle of the night. Be warned, the line will be long to set up your tent and Thursday will feel like the longest day ever, but after you set up and sleep in, waking up in festival mode and ready to go Friday morning is much better than driving into the party Friday afternoon. Don‘t forget your passport!!

the Weather – the weather in the Gorge on the last weekend of May is usually quite cold at night and sunny during the day. Due to ever-changing cloud coverage, it’s good to pack a light rain jacket, some long sleeves, a hoodie/toque for the Hill at night, and lots of flowery, fluro, frayed clothing for the daytime. Take sunscreen and hyrdation seriously, and if you can bring your duvet for night time instead of a sleeping bag – you’ll thank me later.

the Food – if you’re coming from Canada like myself, the best option for filling your cooler is to stop in the USA at Fred Meyer in Bellevue or Walmart in Everett, Washington. Depending on when you get there, they might be already low on ketchup, propane, ice – all of the camping necessities. But don’t worry, they always seem to have enough – and always enough beer – to get you through Sasquatch weekend. Usually here I spend about 100$ for the 3 days on alcohol, food, medicine, and/or anything else I may have forgotten.

The festival has lots of food tents in and outside of the grounds to keep you going as well, everything from  overpriced chicken fingers and fries to Japanese noodles. I was mesmerized this year to see my neighbour return with a freshly made pizza that I would have paid anything for, but to be fair the prices are always about 9$ (for beer, for noodles, whatever) and it’s really not that unreasonable. I usually plan for my first 2 meals made at the campsite, and the 3rd bought somewhere between Yeti stage and Sasquatch stage.

the Music – the line up is something spectacular every year and going to the festival in May is a great prelude to the music of Summer. Last year, Mumford and Sons, Macklemore, Foster the People – they all took the stage and then to the radio, keeping me humming through summer and embedding themselves into sun kissed memories. This year, the line up was also just as notable, with the National, Kid Cudi, Cut Copy and more setting my summer soundtrack. With 5 stages, and over 100 performers belting our their best, the music is usually one of the best festival lineups of summer.  www.sasquatchfestival.com

the Messy Details – the first year that I went to Sasquatch, I almost left my passport at home, ate chips and crackers for 4 days straight and shivered myself to sleep each night. Learning from my mistakes, the next year I managed to bring a small bbq and some real food, a big duvet to keep me warm and enough water to hydrate Lebron James. Though you’ll make your own mistakes and figure it out as you go, paying attention to what you eat, what you wear and where you sleep will make Sasquatch that much more survivable.

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