Every cloud has a silver lining
High Sierra Music Festival no exception
I spent more time at High Sierra Music Festival this year than I ever have in the past. Still, that’s not saying much, as generally speaking, I’d rather take a hike and a dip in a cool mountain lake than stand with hordes of hot, sweaty bodies in a crowded venue blasting music that’s way too loud.
Nevertheless, if a person doesn’t take advantage of small town events that often come few and far between, life would be pretty dull — and who wants that!
I have to hand it to the High Sierra organizers: after 14 years of producing the festival at the fairgrounds, they have it down.
With everything from a first aid station, showers, extra sinks outside for tooth brushing and water bottle filling, food and clothing vendors galore, real bathrooms as well as dozens of port-a-potties, inside and outside music venues, kids’ areas, nightly parades and upwards of 50 or more incredibly talented musical groups, the fairgrounds are transformed into a high-functioning village.
And an amazingly clean one, at that, thanks to the incredible Clean Vibes, who patrol the grounds with fine tooth combs and pick up every morsel of trash.
Not only do they pick it all up, but they judiciously separate it to be recycled, composted or sent to the landfill. This year all of the food vendors’ plates, eating utensils and beer cups were compostable. It’s refreshing to see such a high degree of concern for the environment as well as energy conservation.
Other than the inevitable wear and tear on the grass from thousands of people trodding pathways crisscrossing the spacious fairgrounds, you would never know that 10,000 people were camped out at the site for four days.
It’s true that the music reverberated throughout East Quincy until late at night. But it’s also true that the festival pumps tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy.
The quiet little community of Quincy may be temporarily overrun with folks from out of town, but it seems like most of those folks have smiles on their faces, dollars to spend in their pockets, and a wonderful story to tell their friends back home about the beauty of Plumas County.
Let’s face it — the economy in our county is struggling. Jobs are scarce and don’t pay that well. Families are having fewer children, which reduces our student population, which in turn reduces our teaching population.
Fewer employees means more people exiting the community in search of work, or in some cases, for schools that offer more choices for their kids.
Events like the High Sierra Music Festival, which some in our county denigrate, are vital to our struggling communities.
Even though the producers of the festival are not local and take their profits with them when they leave, the festival still gives Quincy a huge shot in the arm.
I’d wager that it also wins at least a few tourists’ hearts, prompting then to return to Quincy for its beauty and quiet some other time during the year, or for next year’s festival when they will again spend tens and hundreds of dollars at local businesses.
I used to head for the mountains when the festival came to town, uninterested in milling about with thousands of half-naked strangers.
But now I see a bigger picture and can, if not openly embrace the festival, at least willingly participate and see what a boon it is for our local communities.
Yes, there will always be someone who is rude and obnoxious that I would rather not be around, but that’s true even after the festival has come and gone.
I just read a story online about a woman who lost her wallet at the festival and as she was leaving, stopped in at the lost and found.
She wrote that her wallet had not been turned in, but the woman behind the counter pulled 50 bucks out of her own pocket and gave it to her for gas money to get back home.
That act of generosity speaks volumes about the nature and intent of the High Sierra Music Festival.
So take it from me, a former run-for-the-hills-when-the festival-comes-to-town-er: every cloud has a silver lining. And for Quincy, that silver lining is made of gold.