Oh How We Will Miss Spring Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival!
May 6, 2020 | By: Elizabeth Larson Photography
Terry & I would've been heading to the spring Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance to setup our campsite today. However, like everything else this spring, from weddings to graduations sadly the festival isn't happening either. Shakori Hills is a four day festival and would've begun this Thursday, May 7th, and would've continued until Sunday, May 10th. We all know why it was canceled and rather than bringing sadness to this time, I choose only to bring happiness and positivity.
My first time attending Shakori Hills was in the fall of 2009, which happens twice a year in the spring and fall. I have not missed one since. There've been a few times I've had to leave for a day to photograph a wedding nearby, however I've always returned to finish out a weekend. Terry has been going a lot longer than I have and I'm so grateful he and a few other friends were the first to introduce me to this magical place.
In the beginning, I started off volunteering pre-festival to earn my tickets from building a dance floor in the dance tent to landscaping and gardening (which is my second love!) throughout the property. Finally, in the spring of 2014, I asked if I could use my real talents (and profession) during the actual festival, which off course is photography. I've been a staff and media photographer for them ever since! Many of my photos appear on their social media platforms, website, and of course the printed programs. In the fall of 2018 my photo of Donna the Buffalo performing on the Meadow Stage appeared on the cover of the program and a promotional poster which was displayed at various locations around North Carolina, such as coffee shops, breweries, and record stores.
Because of Shakori Hills, I probably wouldn't of discovered many of the bands I'm now a big fan of such as Eilen Jewel, Emily Musolino, Driftwood, Sarah Shook, Lucas Nelson & The Promise of the Real, The Gourds, Cyril Lance, and the Sim Redmond Band, just to name a few (I know I missed so many more!). I've been huge fan of Donna the Buffalo, the hosts of this festival, since going to see them for the first time in 2002 at Starr Hill Music Hall & Brewery when I was still living in Charlottesville, VA. It has been nice to be welcomed into The Herd since moving to North Carolina!
We not only attend Shakori Hills for the music but we go for the entire experience. Terry & I have both made so many friends and connections because of the festival. Many of the craft vendors have ended up being clients (and friends) of mine too - Danielle and Todd Fain with Earth and Iron Pottery (visit their etsy page HERE) and Arthur Haskel with Arthur Dyes (both artists work is shown in the photos below, along with my friend Berkeley Brown's work at Broccoli's Batiks). Year after year, each festival feels like we are "returning home" - it's like no other place.
Although, I admit it is a bit surreal (and yes, sad) that spring Shakori Hills isn't happening, Terry & I are planning to make the most of it. This weekend we will be doing some driveway camping in our popup camper. And we're also going to decorate our camping spot just like we would at Shakori, cook outdoors including a chicken pot pie in the Dutch oven, and set up a slideshow to look through many of the photos we've both taken there at Shakori Hills. And of course we will be listening to many of Terry's live audio recordings of the bands and musicians who've played there over the years. And you can do that too via Live Music Archive (and feel free download too, if desired). This LINK will take you to many of the recordings made at Shakori Hills by a variety of festival tapers. Enjoy!
Today I'm not only sharing my story here on the blog, I'm also sharing a mix of my photographs from both the spring and fall 2019 Shakori Hills. Hopefully it will bring back some fond memories for you. Or encourage you to attend, if you never have. Our fingers are crossed that the fall 2020 festival will still take place from October 1st-4th, however only time will tell. Until then be safe everyone and please stay healthy!