5 Lessons from Once Upon a Festival
Once Upon a Festival is only a second-year festival that offers much more than just music. The Floating Stage, Pirate Ship Stage, and Treehouse Stage make up this unique festival, but in addition to these mind-blowing stages, there are workshops, yoga, healing sanctuaries, and swimming included in this weekend event. As with lots of new endeavors, there are many things that can be learned from such a vibrant environment, and with inspiration from the community surrounding this festival, here’s a short list of lessons learned from OUAF that might be applied in other environments.
1. Give thanks
The 100+ degree days at Lake Lodoga certainly had my camp-mates and I feeling sluggish, but one huge savior was the lake that hosted daytime parties and a place to cool off and rinse the sweat from your body. We’ve all been to those notoriously hot festivals, but when the people who are throwing the party consciously choose a spot that offers a body of water to play and relax in, there’s nothing else to do but give thanks and be grateful that you don’t have to wave yourself with a fan all day just to make yourself one degree cooler. Not only was the lake something to be grateful for, but the large amount of porta potties and campground bathrooms that were almost pristine, at least when I used them, took away the scary mystery of wandering into the bathroom at night, not knowing what you were getting into. If the festival environment that you’re currently in is too hot, too dirty, involves too much walking, take a moment and recognize that good things that the festival provides rather than focusing on the difficult.
2. Go with the flow
As mentioned before, the heat was in full force, so most of my days were spent napping on and off, and jumping in and out of the lake. However, everyone is different and others can get acclimated to the heat much faster than others; I saw many wandering the festival grounds on their bikes and under parasols, wandering in and out of workshops, shopping vendors, playing with their flow toys in the sun, and just generally going about their day as they pleased. Remember to go at your own pace as you are your own individual self and don’t need to keep up with others who thrive in the heat if you feel like it is your kryptonite. Some of the best festival memories can be moments that you experience alone, and there is no shame in sitting back at camp while your squad attends a workshop that doesn’t particularly call to you.
3. Be creative
Once Upon a Festival calls forth the pirates, fairies, lost boys, and mermaids of our time and highly encourages everyone to dress up as much as they like. There was no shortage of fairy wings, light-up costumes, stripes, funky-cool hats, and other adornments that had everyone looking beautiful, fabulous, and like their own unique storybook character. Whether you have one pair of weird socks that you can’t wait to sport or an array of bling that you just need to wear all at once, be your own character and get creative with your looks. Many still work a typical 9-5 that requires all black clothing with little flare, so get crazy and branch out when the default world has no say on your get-up, festivals are the best place to toy with your identity and discover new ways to express your character.
4. Get involved with the community
OUAF is still a growing community, so the volunteers, staff, media workers, vendors, food booths, and all others who contributed get a major shout-out. If you see a community that you think deserves more recognition, a larger following, or is struggling, get involved. Nothing helps a growing family more than community participation; direct involvement goes a long way, and like many other festivals, Once Upon a Festival always accepts applications for all types of community participation. This year, Enchanted Forest, Lucidity Festivals, Envision Festival, Raindance, An-Ten-Nae, Emersion, Hookahdome, Sacred Spaces, and Mindful Massive all took on huge roles in participation for this community event, and the collaboration showed in the most magical ways. Remember, community involvement is a very large spectrum, and even giving a weekly shout-out to your favorite festival can go a long way; plus, it is always great to have your festival family with you in full-force at your favorite event.
5. Recognize the nice cops
Like last year, the cops that patrolled the festival grounds were nothing but courteous and non-invasive. Their presence was obvious, but they were always along the perimeters of the grounds watching, smiling, taking photos and videos, and amused by the quirky community. In addition to their non-threatening distance, staff security for the grounds were also genuinely nice people who came to my camp, along with many others, to check up on my camp-mates and I making sure no one was hurt or suffering with complications from the heat, and also gave us helpful tips on how to stay cool if we felt like we were becoming over-heated. It is moments like these that we should recognize the good in those we might perceive as negative or harmful, and actually give thanks for being offered a helping hand from an unexpected source.
Once Upon a Festival is a new staple in the California festival scene, but as more time passes, the buzz and chatter around this event will grow immensely and next year can already be foreseen as another win that even more people will be unable to resist. Follow this new event on all social media platforms to get a constant stream of photos, updates, and information so you can join in on the fun next year. Once Upon a Festival is truly a unique experience created by some of the funnest, sexiest, hard-working squads.