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I say, “ Come for the food, stay for the music.” This past Memorial Day weekend at the Virginia Women’s Music Festival (www.campoutva.com) you could get barbeque chicken for dinner and grits at breakfast. Saturday morning featured biscuits and gravy, and there was always something delicious for vegetarians too. You could also bring your own food, although I don’t know how someone could resist theirs. If it weren’t for the music, I could have just eaten all day. But heck, the music’s great too, and I’m not just sayin’ that ‘cause they booked me.
This year’s lineup included Bitch, SONiA, Ellis, Virago, Sister Funk and lots more. On Saturday night the rockin’ party band Wicked Jezabel cranked out some great tunes to a packed dance floor. The land where the festival’s held is beautiful, with acres of forest and a lake. There were workshops – from meditation to financial tips – and a great crafts area. A softball game was often in progress, and I heard about a naked volleyball game happening one night but I missed it – damn. There were lots of places to hang out with old friends or meet new ones – from the covered pavilion to the bonfire at night.
The wealtehr was gorgeous – in the 70s with a cool breeze. You can rent space in a cabing, bring a tent, or sleep in an RV. There was more of a party atmosphere this festival than the others I’ve attended, but that’s fine with me ‘cause I don’t always need a deep political discussion. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, this festival was very well organized while still feeling laid back and relaxing. Everyone was friendly – but hey, it’s the South, we’re famous fo that. So y’all come next year, ‘K? —Jamie Anderson, Durham, NC
It was a beautiful weekend at the Virginia Women's Musical Festival - super relaxing and exciting, too. A year between CampOuts seems just too long.We arrived on Friday afternoon- hoping to be kinda early, but apparently everyone had that idea, so tent sites weren't as abundant as we had pictured - but at least we didn't have a seriously wacky site like last year when we were so late they had to carve a site out for us. And we got our tent up in record time - the damned thing is like a mobius strip.Let it be known that there is valet camping at the Virginia Women's Music Festival... You drive up to the entrance of the tent sites, you park temporarily, these nice women flock to you and unload all your goods onto a trailer pulled by an ATV driven by another nice woman, they send you into the woods to hunt down a site while they drive your stuff to it and unload it all for you! Who's ever heard of such camping?? To further add to the level of service, there were 2 nice ladies sitting at the entrance with a pump, asking to blow up our air mattress for us. Anyhoo, music was great right from the start (at 6pm on Friday), though I did a little napping through some of it at first. I mean I was tired. Mama's Black Sheep finally woke me up with some great, great stuff, then there was the incredible and always-charged up and entertaining Sonia and disappear fear, then the darned cute and delightful Ellis finished up the night for us with her cool guitar and her charming laugh. What an incredible way to start the holiday weekend.Saturday morning, we overslept a little, but darned if I was going to miss the sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast so I charged up there pretty fast to the kitchen and then M went to see Sonia to learn a little guitar playing while I headed back to the homestead for a while. Wish I'd done some yoga with the yoga group, actually - but that just doesn't seem right with a stomach full of sausage gravy and biscuits.On Saturday, the music started at 10 am, and - but for an afternoon break- went all the way into evening, ending at midnight. We heard The Ragdolls- a fun party band from Richmond, then that wild and crazy woman, Jamie Anderson- with a band this time, then a hot couple of girls called Virago. The evening music started with our very own Someone's Sister- who just fire up that outdoorsy stage every year with huge amounts of energy and excitement, then we heard Bitch- just WOW is all I can think of... followed by this flying-high group of women called Sister Funk and then the coolest of party bands I've ever seen, Wicked Jezabel, who we danced to for 2 hours solid - they played a 2-hour set! Meanwhile, over at the bonfire... Every night at CampOut there is this fire surrounded by a circle of sittin' logs and chairs filled with women. You know how cool a fire is and it just attracts a crowd.Thankfully, we got a nice warm shower to wash off all the dancin' sweat before heading back to the tent. I love an outdoor shower and CampOut has a whole bank of them.At last, we heard our gal, The Original L. She was on her game, yes ma'am, she was. No flying gum or lost set list was gonna bother her performance - she was just hot, y'all. Oh, the curly-headed Australian, Martine Locke (who has "no more straight girls" tattooed across her forehead, right at the hairline) was good and all, but too bad she had to follow Laura McL.There's this pretty lake that's got that icky mushy lake-bottom thing going on, but anyway, that's where the Memorial Day service is held each year and it's a cool ceremony that Kat and Georgia sang the National Anthem for. Then they sang some songs, while Laura played the guitar for us. There were a lot of people there - a lot of service-women, in particular. Cool.After a while, Margaret and I wandered back to site "33 orange" and thought about whoopin' up on some dinner, but all that got whooped up was some bloody mary's. We hung out with some neat neighbors and made it up to the pavillion in time to see the T-Birds and some drag king action.We headed back to 33 orange after the dancing was over and hung out for as long as we could stay awake- our last night at CampOut and we wanted it to linger.But Monday morning means it's time to start packing. After breakfast up at the kitchen and a few good byes around the area, we went on back and started packing. How sad.We got it all done, and M went up the trail to bring the little Subaru back to the tent area, and I sat down on the cooler, surrounded all by our stuff - the tent, the bags, the pillows and blankets, the crate of food and liquor remnants, the half-empty box of wine and half-empty cases of beer - and I waited for my ride like Delta Dawn. Up the trail from the left and down the trail from the right comes an ATV and trailer from each direction heading right for each other. They each leaned forward and sped up! They came to a screaching halt in front of me and the women jumped off their vehicles laughing and fighting over my stuff.The car got loaded, we hit the porta potties one more time, and home we went. For days, though, we were seeing people around New Bern who looked like our CampOut friends. What a treat the Virginia Women's Muscial Festival is and what a magical place to be. It's Memorial Day weekend every year- put it on your calendar.Hope all of y'all are there
"We arrived mid afternoon on Friday and all the weight of this past year shifted from our shoulders and was left at the gate. We had been through quite a bit of life changing stuff over the past 12 months. A new job, continued education, a discernment process, our wedding, the passing of my grandmother and my father's illness just to name a few of the stressors that had colored our world since May of last year. All of it left at the gate and we could breathe, exhale, come up for air and enjoy the gift of freedom this weekend offered us. We reconnected as a couple underneath the sun, the moon and the stars. We listened to the music coming from the stage, the laughter of friends in the crowd and the peace that only happens in the woods. What a special and holy place Campout is. You can tell that from the moment you step foot on the Land. The crew was so gracious and filled with a welcoming spirit- we felt at home instantly. We were filled over and over again by the friendships that came so easily, the love and care that the good stewards of the land offered and also by the delicious meals from the kitchen staff! As a person that works within the hospitality industry I was blown away by the care and dedication that went into every detail of our experience. We left wanting to stay and we have already made sure that we can come back again next year. What a gift Campout was for us. It was exactly what we needed.Thank you to Billie and the crew for making such a wonderful experience come alive for us. We truly do appreciate it and honor the work, time and effort that goes into making this possible.
Thank you again!Ginny Wilder
Discovery ahead of you
A legacy behind you"