What is your relationship with the staff and community at Shakori Hills Music Festival?
Oh this sweet family. I currently help with management for parking during the festival as well as help out on kids tent or security shifts when I can. The staff and volunteers are the most amazing community and I wouldn’t want to work beside anyone else.
When did you start coming to Shakori Hills Music Festival?
Spring of 2013 was my first Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival and I haven’t stopped coming back since.
What is your fondest memory, story or moment over the years at Shakori Hills Music Festival?
My favorite memories take place on Sunday nights at Shakori. The majority of the festival-goers leave and go home by mid-morning on Sunday, since it’s the last day of the festival, but the real beauty is Sunday night. All vendors and food close up and everyone meets at one stage for “Donna & friends.” This is where Donna the Buffalo’s band (who helped start grassroots back in Ithaca 27 years ago) and all the friends that have played all weekend do a shared set. All staff and workers are there and truly enjoying themselves with talking backstage, sharing food, and dancing together. It’s a sweet and intimate time every festival to share with those that all made it possible and beautiful.
What is your overall opinion of the community at Shakori Hills Music Festival?
Shakori holds a community sense unique and different from all the other festivals I’ve been to. The land holds the feeling of home and the people exude the warmth of a close family members embrace. Shakori hills is unlike the other grassroots. It is the perfect number of people stretched out on the grounds all tucked away between the trees and earth. It is a family reunion.
Have you seen any shifts in the community atmosphere at Shakori Hills Music Festival over the years?
What a great question. The majority of the shifts and changes that I feel impact the community are the changes in the themed camps scattered all around. Here you have groups of random people that collectively come to together, whether by a camp fire or because you stumble upon music in the trees, and decide to camp together. At Shakori some of the well known ones are: Honey badger, Jetpackers, Camp No Hope, Mudslide, Sparkle, and my small one, Desanka. As the years go on the camp attendees come and go. They are always in our hearts even if they miss a festival or move far away. Big shifts happen to the community as friends begin to get married or have kids. This is when the camps shift to accommodate. Going from once young high schoolers staying out late partying to kicking it back with the family is a transition we all make together.
What are some positive changes to Shakori Hills Music Festival that you have seen take place over the years?
Grassroots has always been about raising awareness and being proactive regarding the injustice that’s going on politically, racially and socially. The continued work towards this as a festival says a lot about the people who put it on and those who stand in support and solidarity. On the grounds we continue to make improvements like our new permanent bathroom structure, having easy access to well water and sustainable resources for example the free showers.
What do you think is the most important thing that Shakori Hills Music Festival has been able to accomplish for the surrounding community?
Creating a safe space for people to truly be themselves is something shakori has done well for all that comes to the festival. Working with locals and small businesses is cherished for the festival and goes a long way. The communities all around Chatham county come together to educate and share what they do, which is such a joy to see since i now live in this sweet community.
What are your favorite bands that you have seen play at Shakori Hills Music Festival?
Oh there are so many! I started coming back when Dr. Bacon was still small and playing on the side of the coffee barn, and now to see them as headliners is always fun. Dishoom, the fabulous Indian DJ that had played late night in the cabaret, makes your whole body move. Rainbow Kitten Surprise made a visit in the spring and this year some amazing ones were Beats Antique, Locos Por Juana, and Lobo Marino, which is hands down my favorite.
If you were convincing a friend to come to Shakori Hills Music Festival, in one or two sentences, what would you say to them?
“Hey come to Shakori. I can’t convince you to come, but it will change your life so I hope to see you there.”
Jenna, thank you again for this wonderful interview. The work you do at Shakori Hills is a testament to the beautiful community that share these grounds every year.