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A Tale of Two Festivals: Two Weekends In August
[ by kim flanders ]


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Live from Cornerstone NC It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Ok, so, I never read that entire novel in high school; that is all I remember. What was that title anyway? But seriously, despite some inclement weather, it really was the best of times.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about, it was back to back summer music festival weekends in 2003. I have been attending the Purple Door Arts and Music Festival each August since its inception at the Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1996. It has outgrown that site while also increasing the number of bands, stages, and days for the event. But last year, the expansion of the Cornerstone Festival to a weekend in NC caught my attention. So, the weekend before Purple Door 2003 in Lewisberry, PA, I made an 8 hour trek to Elon, NC for the Cornerstone NC Festival.

During my short 2 hour drive out to Purple Door, I found myself comparing the events before I had even arrived on site. By the end of Purple Door, my comparison of the festivals was complete. Here is what I found:

  Cornerstone NC Purple Door
Number of Stages 4 4
Number of Days 2 1 1/2
Number of Bands About 50 About 40
Diversity of Musical Genre High Moderate
Local bands? Lots Some
Other than music? Seminars, Art Rageous, Cinema C-stone, inflatable games Seminars, Speakers from the Main Stage each nite, Art Gallery, Skate park
Food A few carnival type vendors. But where was the funnel cake?? Lots of carnival type vendors, including Fried Oreos AND funnel cake
Lodging Camping Available on site Find your own offsite
Start time each day Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real said as they opened the festival on Friday at 12:30 PM, "Rock people don't usually get up this early!" 7:00 PM on Friday evening and 9:30 AM on Saturday……. was I even awake then??
Cell Phone Service Roaming Full strength
Running Water None, except what came from the sky Yes, usually coming out of a snow-making machine
Price at Door $49.95 $37.00
Population (my guess) 3,000 8,000
Age range Mainly teens and 20-somethings All ages (including babies!)
Mud factor after a rain Moderate Off the charts
Parents? I saw many dropping their kids off and leaving I saw some in the mosh pit with their kids
Security I noted a couple people in bright orange vests at the stage Bright orange was everywhere (no wait, I was working stage security)

Purple Door Had Funnel CakesEven with the rain showers at both events, and Purple Door ending early due to a wicked thunder storm, this certified music-a-holic would agree that both festivals were the best of times. It was nice to know that if I missed one band at Cornerstone, I could catch them at Purple Door.

As I write this, the once huge snow piles in the mall parking lots have almost melted away, and the buds on the trees are about to pop open. Though many people have not even considered their music festival plans for the summer, I began to plan in January, even before all the bands for each festival were finalized. So far in the works are Icthus in Wilmore, Kentucky, April 22 to 25th; Creation East in Mt. Union, PA, June 23 to 26th; and Purple Door in Lewisberry, PA, August 20 and 21st.

Live from Purple Door 2003Though I am not able to make the long trek to Cornerstone NC this year, I would recommend it for anyone who lives within an acceptable driving distance. Or perhaps there is a similar festival in your neck of the woods. Music festivals—big and small, short and long—have sprung up all over the place in the past 10 years, to complement the long-standing festivals that began in the 70's and 80's.

Whether you like to camp or stay in hotel, whether you like alternative/hard rock or more Christian Hit type of music, there is bound to be a music festival to fit your desired experience. Any music fan who reads this should consider at least one festival this summer. And if you cannot afford the full price ticket, by all means, volunteer!! (And don't forget to save up some money for merch.)
- Kim Flanders
April 2004
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