Alive Festival 2014

July 14, 2014

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

If you’re not familiar with Alive Festival, it’s a contemporary Christian musical festival held in the Akron-Canton area of Ohio that’s been going on for 27 years. In high school, my friends and I would attend every summer, but I haven’t been back since. After a bit of research we found that you could attend the whole festival for only $20 if you volunteered to work a bit of each day. It seemed like a great opportunity for Andrew and I to meet new people, go camping, and attend some concerts on the cheap, so we signed up.

I had hoped to work the admittance booth or the vending tent, but we signed up kind of late and got put in parking, which was actually the last place I wanted to work. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, it sucked. And I wish I could say that other than directing parking, the whole week was a blast, but I already said I wasn’t going to lie to you. In fact, the entire first day was a complete disaster.

 

But, before I get into the details of our first full day at Alive, there are a few things you need to know. First, we had to work at 8 in the morning our first day so we decided to go down there the night before. Second, Aunt Flow was kind enough to pay me a visit right before we had to leave. Third, we weren’t able to get there until close to 11 at night and it took us about an hour to figure out where the heck we were suppose to go. Then we had to set our tent up in the dark. And fourth, the combination of stress and Midol coursing through my body kept me up all night.

So I went to work bright and early the next morning on zero hours of sleep. Of course the menstrual issues, anxiety from the previous night, and lack of sleep made me sick. I spent the first hour and a half of work running to and from the bathroom. Once that passed though, work the first day wasn’t horrible. We got to meet the event’s founder, which was pretty cool, and he gave us our directions. Traffic was pretty light. Most of the people coming that day were campers and we were only in charge of one day parking. For the most part it was just boring, and lonely since we each had to stand at different spots. The real killer that day was the sun. It was brutal. And we had absolutely no shade. Sunburn and heat exhaustion ensued.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

Eventually 2 o’clock rolled around and we were free to go shower, finish setting up the tent, and have some fun. If only it had been that simple…

After cleaning up, we went down to the amphitheater where we planned to relax, eat some deliciously artery clogging festival food, and listen to music the rest of the night. Then it started to rain.

Just a sprinkle, no big deal. But, our tent only had a mesh screen on the top center section and we had neglected to put up the rain fly before departing for the amphitheater. We packed up with surprising speed and started the ten minute hike back to the volunteer campground.

Our tent was in sight and the rain still hadn’t picked up above a slight drizzle. It looked like things would be okay. I was full of hope and relief as I stepped onto the grass of our campsite. Only a few more minutes and our tent would be safe from any major flooding. As long as the storm continued to hold off…

It didn’t.

Everything got soaked.

We felt like idiots. Waterlogged idiots with soggy sleeping bags.

Good news though! The campground had a laundromat on site. We packed up our wet belongings, set up the rain fly, dried the floor of our tent, and got to drying our clothes. As we waited I prayed to remain joyful throughout our trip and to not let these setbacks and mishaps make me bitter. The storm died down after about an hour or so and as we made our way back with our dry sleeping accoutrements, I began to feel emotionally refreshed and ready to enjoy the rest of the festival.

Those feelings were very short lived.

You see, the wind was pretty bad during that storm and the straps for the rain fly… they weren’t so sturdy. I think you can figure out what happened.

At this point Andrew was just ready to give up. So after using all of our towels to soak up the water inside our tent, we decided to get off the campgrounds for a while. We thought we’d find a McDonald’s nearby. Sit in some air conditioning, have some dinner, and just unwind from all the crap that had happened so far.

We get in the car and I ask Siri to get us to the closest McDonald’s. 25 minutes away. That was fine. We expected it to be a little far away. What we hadn’t expected was for this 25 minute route to take us through the woods on the single most terrifying gravel road in the history of forever.

Let me paint a picture for you, it’s pitch black. The only light is coming from our high beams. There are no reflectors on any of the curves and all we see on either side of us are giant trees with downed limbs from the storm and dust and rocks being kicked up from our tires. We stayed like this for like 5 hours it felt like, but it was probably only 15 minutes. The entire time I continued to pray for safety and a joyful heart.

Finally we hit tarmac. Huzzah! We were on our way to civilization. Of course the first civilization we run into is some creepy dude in a pick up truck who decided to tailgate us for the next two miles. I legit thought we were going to die. I know it doesn’t sound like a particularly near death scenario, but you have to remember I’d been awake for close to 40 hours at this point and was this close to having a complete mental breakdown. All I could think was that this guy was going to run us off the road and drag us from our car and our families would never know what really happened to us.

Of course I was blowing the situation way out of proportion. I let my anxiety and sleep deprivation get the best of me instead of just remember that God was in control. Anyway, we finally did make it to that McDonald’s. We got some food, settled down, and figured out a more direct, less foresty death trap, route back to the campground. Our tent was still pretty wet and disheveled though so we just slept in our car, but I didn’t even care at that point, I was so exhausted.

 

The next three days, I’m happy to say, were much better.

The camp laundromat was super crowded the next day since a lot of other campers didn’t fair too well during the last night’s storm, so we found one in a nearby town that thankfully didn’t require any gravel roads to get to. After our things were dry we had dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant before heading back to the festival.

We spent the rest of the night exploring the vendor’s tents and watching a couple of the concerts before we hit the hay. I spent some time at the booth for A Voice for the Innocent, a non-profit organization that offers support and help for those suffering from rape and sexual abuse. After learning about their mission I was given a free “hope note”.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

This is a topic that is close to my heart and I hope that I can get involved with this organization and/or others like it in the future.

 

We had the evening shift on Friday so we got to sleep in that morning. It was glorious. We finally had an afternoon free so we headed for the beach. We swam around in the lake, had some ice cream, and lounged around in the sun while listening to the bands play on the Beach Stage. It was finally start to feel like the Alive Fest I remembered form all those years ago.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

The last two days of working the parking were probably the worst. I really hate complaining about the volunteer work because, well, I volunteered for it and Alive is such a great festival, and I was happy to be a part of it, but everything was just a mess those last two days. Between not knowing where to direct overflow parking and trying to keep cars from getting stuck in the mud from the storms, it was just chaos. But Andrew took charge and managed to get it sorted out. I was really impressed and thankful for everything he did to make the workload easier on me and the other parking volunteers. He’s a pretty awesome guy. I even posted this on Facebook that night:

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

It was kind of a big deal because we barely even acknowledge each other on social media let alone gush over one another. But I really thought everyone should know what a great, hard working guy he is. If nothing else, this little trip definitely brought us closer together. :)

 

In spite of the stressful and exhausting volunteer experience, Saturday was the best day. Mostly because of all the Switchfoot-ness that happened, but also because it was the day Andrew and I got to spend the most time together without the stress of volunteer work looming over our heads.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

There was a Q&A session with three of the band members going on that afternoon. I didn’t ask any questions, but I did get to learn what some of their favorite songs and Bible verses were. And they received some banana bread from a sweet family from Florida, which was pretty neat.

We spent the rest of the day at the amphitheater. Pizza and ice cream were eaten and souvenirs were purchased.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

My body was feeling pretty beat by the evening though so I had decided to just watch Switchfoot’s performance from the seating area further away from the stage. But when they started playing I realized that this view just wasn’t going to cut it…

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

…Not after getting to experience them so close a couple of months before. So we made our way down to the stage area so we could see better and sing and dance with the other fans.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

During the Q&A a guy said he had been practicing how to play their song Dark Horses for the past year and sort of jokingly asked if he could play it with them that night. Well... you guessed it! Jon pulled him on stage, gave him his guitar and let him rock. He killed it. And he was having so much fun. I loved it!

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

It was a great last night of Alive 2014.

Alive Festival 2014 | allonsykimberly.com

Chris Tomlin went on after Switchfoot and a fireworks show followed. We didn’t stay for the fireworks (which is why this picture is so far away) because they were showing Switchfoot’s documentary Fading West at another stage around the time the show was ending, and of course I wanted to go see it.

 

And that was the end of our time at Alive 2014. We left for home the next morning. I know I made it seem like we were miserable half the time, and truthfully we kind of were, but I learned a lot from this trip. I continually prayed for God’s strength to keep me joyful despite the numerous calamities and to praise Him throughout our struggles. It reminded me how I should be approaching life. Nothing is ever going to be completely easy or perfect and more often than not things will go horribly wrong. That’s just how life is in our broken, fallen world. To make it through this life we have to cling to God’s promises, His mercy and grace, and remain joyful. Because no matter the circumstances, He has given us the gift of salvation and that is always worth celebrating.




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