It is April, which means it’s Festival time in Lafayette. We have a lot of festivals in Louisiana but Festival International de Louisiane is the most anticipated and celebrated, among my circle. It is a free festival with multiple stages and there is the opportunity to enjoy more than one type of giant bread bowl full of cheesy crawfish concoctions, just this alone is a reason to go. I, of course am hosting friends and working through festival. As per usual when it comes to things that most of the world enjoys I strive for worlds biggest party pooper status. There are many types of Festival goers. I qualify as the reluctant participant. Even though I am not an active participant I do enjoy the people watching.
The Temporary Hippie: All the young ladies who have climbed into the back of their closets to find their festival uniform of flowy skirts and flower crowns. Yesterday Madison was working in the mall and splitting PF Changs chicken wraps with her besties, today she is now a peace loving hippie who strangely is also a hula hoop savant. Where do they get this talent? Do they practice in the dark of night just for this one day? I never see people hula hooping except for festivals. If I walked down and tried to show my hula agility I would look like an bloated oversized grub worm having some sort of death seizure. You keep being you Maddie. It wouldn’t be festival if your hooped flock wasn’t roaming the stages spreading peace, love and selfies.
The Music Lovers: They have studied the schedule and formed a plan of attack. Supplies are packed so that they can fly from stage to stage with ease. You can tell when you run into this specimen by the way they get darty eyed and shuffle around while you visit with them after the band stops. You are messing with the plan. They have a stage to get to and you are a human barrier to this mission. Just let them go, they aren’t hearing what you are saying, while you chatter on pictures of prime spots slipping away are going through their head. I love their obsession with getting as many acts in as they possibly can. They are the true lone wolfs of fest. They will abandon all companions for the music. They truly deserve these festivals.
The Festival Socialite: She has spent the week planning her daily outfits. It isn’t just a festival it is an event to see and be seen. Unlike the rest of us, it seems the crowds and weather don’t affect them. Most festival goers look a hot mess within 20 minutes. No matter how much time I spend at festival, be it 10 minutes or 4 hours I come home in the same condition. Along with the ever bountiful pit stains there is the boob sweat that forms happy face emojis across my chest. I always manage to step into some mysterious that strangely matches the mysterious liquid that was poured down my back. In short I comeback as sweaty, red faced, mess that has a smell that can not be easily identified. Not the socialites, they look perfect the entire time. They slowly stroll around festival proudly showing off their perfectly planned festival outfit. I don’t know what deal they made with which devil but it had to be a good one to somehow avoid every natural element and drunks at a festival. My biggest fear is their biggest pleasure. Random people they haven’t seen for years finding them amongst the crowd.
The Obsessed Fester.: They don’t miss a festival. Usually it involves a countdown till the day it returns. They have the over the top outfits that declares to the whole world, “I love Festival!” Some even go as far as tattooing a permanent reminder to everyone that their love is forever. Their magical ability is to be in everyplace all the time. I swear I have left a stage where I just saw them front and center living their best life and 10 minutes later they front and center on the other side of the festival. How? I walked briskly without stopping and you were there when I left. I go get a beer and there you are visiting with a friend. Somehow their love for festival gives them the super power to astral project themselves across the festival.
The Photographer: I know your dirty secret. I think most photographers are secretly also avoiders. They want to enjoy the festivities but not actually fully be social. I have to hide behind people and bushes to avoid awkward conversations, they hide behind a giant camera. You can hop around and run off in mid convo without seeming rude. I respect you and I am jealous I didn’t realize this was an option for social events. You win sirs and madams. You figured out the secret to have your cake and eat it to.
The Roamers: These are my people. No plans just roaming aimlessly till they hear a good beat, see another food item they must have or spot some precious shade to hide in. Usually everything is motivated by missions. One person says “ Ooh I could use a Sangria” and off the small pack goes to help there fellow roamer. If I festival this is what I prefer, as they say “It is harder to hit a moving target” this applies to warfare and awkward conversations.
The Squatters: There are two type of squatters. The family squatter and the chair squatter. Families tend to mark out a territory and that is where they live until the mass migration to the next resting spot. I get it, you find the other families and now Mom and Dad can enjoy fest without the constant whining. Festival is like a giant babysitter when you follow this path. Children are way more tolerable when they find their pack. They form one creature traveling like a giant ball that flys by every few minutes with random arms and legs poking out on all sides. The chair squatter is the strangest to me. I have no idea what time they get there but I imagine it’s the night before with head lamps. Armed with folding chairs and fanny packs they stake their claim. They live here now no matter who is playing they don’t move. I swear I don’t think they even go to the restroom, it is like the chairs are their fortress they have made a vow to the death to protect. I am not sure if they are there for the festival or if they get a weird thrill from the battle to protect their spot.
Of course there are more than these types at any festival. The Dancers, The Drunks, The Tourist (usually spotted by the hat, fanny pack, regional food themed shirt and comfortable shoes uniform), The Shopper, The Reluctant Participant… the list can go on. No matter what, I am just glad that festivals exist for all of us to gather in one place and for some precious moments no one cares about your religion or politics. They just want to know if there is toilet paper in the port-a potty and where you got that Crawfish Mac filled Bread Bowl.
P.S.- Every once in awhile I drag my grumpy crowd fearing self to the festival and it and it pays off in spades. This was one of those years. I ventured out in Deserted Island Mumu and insanely cajun hipster trucker hat heading straight for the all healing Festival Bloody Mary. Traveling with my fellow roamers I was about to call it a day and once again take my spot as the troll who hides on the porch. We hear some interesting sounds from the smallest stage and as you turn the corner there is a not tiny bearded man wearing just a choir robe just killing it and all in French. We were hooked “Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire” had lured us in. Then came Ms. Lisa Leblanc she had us at hello ,but solidified our girl crush when we recognized the ever familiar beginning of Ace of Spades. It was one of those moments when you turn to your girlfriend and ask “ Is it weird if I pass her note that say will you be my friend check yes or no?” Once the set ended we knew the only the to be done was to head home because we were topping the ever inspiring New Brunswick stage. So, yes even I can learn how to enjoy a festival.
Hats off to Chrysi a great roamer and great partner for impromptu fangirling.