A visit to the Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival
by Kaola Swanson -- October 19th, 2011
Luckily for me, fall break coincides with the Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival less than an hour from Durham.
I grew up in Durham, in the same little pink house on the same street next to the same park. I know the back way to get most places which means I get lost all the time-everywhere looks familiar to me. I take pride in this place, the people who live here, the food we fry up, and the music and art that we send out into the larger world.
Twice a year, at Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival outside of Pittsboro, North Carolina music, art, food, and community come together. Shakori is one of my favorite things that happens all year; I’ll tell you why: It’s another world. For three days, I don’t look at my email and I don’t expect my cell phone to work. I don’t think about school or work or even consider getting in my car. My friends (also Nic Schoolers) and I get up in the morning, pull on our dancing boots and don’t take them off until the wee hours of the next day. We wander between the four official stages to see bands playing anything from bluegrass and to funk or zydeco, and everything in between. If you miss a band on one stage, there’s a good chance they’ll play again later in the weekend. In addition to the music, there are games played in the fields, yoga and massage in a quiet grove, clumps of friends picking their instruments near their campsites, arts & crafts supplies, and of course, the Paperhand Puppet parade. All of this is happening on around 75 acres in Chatham County, less than an hour from Durham.
Once outside of the city, you can see the rolling hills of the Piedmont. This time of year, the tree tops are all turning from green to red and yellow, almost like they’re flowering. The weather was unbeatable- sunny and warm during the day with crisp, cold evenings. As much as I enjoy being outside, the kids like it even more. They’re free to roam, dance or to play a frantic, festival wide game of capture the flag. Half of them don’t have on shoes and haven’t brushed their hair but they are smiling and engaged with the world. You don’t have to be at a music festival to find this kind of escape, but it can take some effort to unplug and get your friends or your family outside for a few days. It’s definitely worth it. At the end of the weekend, everyone goes home looking more relaxed than when they arrived, humming new tunes and ready for the next Shakori.