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Leisure time: Life at the Sasquatch! Music Festival

Photo by Kay Kim

Spending five nights in the Sasquatch! Music Festival campground can be a learning experience for us all. After all, not many people in their right mind would even travel to a desert in middle of nowhere without basic necessities — save $10 chicken tenders and $14 margaritas — let alone survive the experience. Still, tens of thousands of festival-goers make the Memorial Day pilgrimage and are rewarded with the beautiful sights and sounds of The Gorge. One of the most unique venues in the world, The Gorge’s main stage overlooks the spectacular Columbia River Basin, and with music ranging from folk to dance to rap, Sasquatch brings a wide variety of fans from all over the region. At this year’s festival, I decided to investigate what trademark items people brought to have a safe and successful Sasquatch.

A unique flag: This is an absolute must, unless you want to be wandering around thousands of identical tents in the pitch-dark every night. A flag is not only a useful landmark for your campsite but also can help possibly inebriated nearby campers locate their own campsites. Some effective examples of flags this year: Kazakhstan, Bavaria, Star Wars Rebel Alliance, and Where’s Waldo.

Cheap, flimsy sunglasses: Unless you are wearing a pair of plastic sunglasses that cost less than $10, you aren’t really fitting in at Sasquatch, or any music festival across the country. These sunglasses are very likely to be lost or broken, but don’t fear: No fewer than five pairs can be found on the ground following every show. Plus, they are an effective way of preventing security from looking at your eyes.

Lawn chairs: Let’s say by 11:30 on the third day of Sasquatch you are completely exhausted, or perhaps you are worried about being trampled in the mosh pit during Bon Iver. A lawn chair is perfect, then, for sitting on the beautiful terraced hill on The Gorge and taking in the scenery.

A boat/school bus: If you really want the party to come to you, driving a boat or bus into the campground is the way to go. Be warned, though: This is only recommended if you plan on not sleeping for the duration of Sasquatch. Total strangers are guaranteed to dance on your boat or bus 24/7.

A sound system to blast dubstep: There was no shortage of dubstep at Sasquatch this year; even Friday headliner Pretty Lights is all fist-pumping bass drops. So hundreds of boomboxes blasting dubstep louder than they can handle the second the festival ends in the campsite will naturally attract festival-goers. This will especially please your camping neighbors at 4 a.m.

A Gumby costume: Those who frequent the Banana Shack — Sasquatch’s stage for comedy and dance — will know there is no shortage of strange costumes at the festival. If Sasquatch is a gathering of strange people, than the Banana Shack brings out the strangest of the bunch. Many travel in groups, and this year saw a small army of Waldos. However, the most effective costume for personal safety is Gumby by far. Several costume-wielders get dropped crowd-surfing seemingly at every show, but festival attendees take extra care not to drop Gumby.

A small grill: Absolutely nothing is better than fresh bacon on the last morning of Sasquatch, but the real advantage to having a grill is the small fortune that can be made selling a hot meal to fellow campers. The wafting smell of bacon will attract throngs of people willing to pay top dollar. Furthermore, the massive line at the Ellensburg Jack in the Box the morning following the festival can be avoided.

Each Sasquatch is a learning experience, and 2012 prepared me to have successful festivals in the future. Living in the Sasquatch campground is a growing and bonding experience for tens of thousands of people every year, all with their own personal set of quirks. While the bands of Sasquatch might not be remembered in 20 years, the people will be.

Reach reporter Nathaniel Reeves at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @njr3701

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