(I wrote Groovin at Hippie Fest a week before I got sick. All I needed to do to post was edit. I decided to post it this morning because I need some sunshine in my life right now.)
We are at the pinnacle of festival season here in Central Indiana. Five festivals were happening within a fifty-mile radius of where we live on this sunny Saturday morning. It’s the equivalent of a Hoosier final fling before temperatures drop and the snow flies. Our adventure crew decided to go goovin at Hippie Fest. We weren’t sure about what to expect. What we didn’t count on was the gaudy amount of tie-dye we would encounter. I came of age during the late sixties and early seventies, and I never experienced a colorful display like the one we encountered. For a price, you could even join in on a hippie tie-dye line.
Why grooving at Hippie Fest became a bad choice
Our granddaughters had no point of reference in judging the gaggle of hippies they encountered on this warm autumn day. Rooster and I might even have brought with us a tainted view of the hippie generation because our high school days came at the tail end of the Woodstock generation. The older kids might have played at the hippie game, but in our experience, the flower child thing started to die out because it became too commercialized. I’m not saying we never hitchhiked or smoked wacky tabacy. What we weren’t interested in was becoming like the hippies we saw on TV. Our coming of age was a little more hardcore.
Our Experience Groovin at Hippie Fest
We strolled past the giant mushroom at the gate, paid the price of admission, and walked into a world littered by tie die. The entrance fee would be an embarrassment to any legitimate hippie. The peace, love, and dope people of Haight-Asberry transformed into the peace, love, and give me your money folks. (Rooster hitchhiked to that corner in San Francisco with friends back in the 1970s, only to discover the scene was over. Everyone decided to go home.)
Once we stepped on the other side of the gate, we encountered vendors selling everything hippie. I felt like I’d entered a boardwalk on the beach at a tourist trap. Instead of beachy items, the merchandise all had a hippie flair designed to part the Hippie Fest attendee from their money. A band set up at the rear of the event played some cool sixties and cool seventies music. They sort of hit the mark but missed when the lead female singer attempted a Janis Joplin song. (Suggestion number one, you should never attempt to imitate Joplin. You will miss the mark every time.)
What we liked about Groovin at Hippie Fest
The two things the grandchildren enjoyed most at hippie Fest were the ladies on stilts and the bubbles. The ladies on stilts said they learned how to do the act at Circus School in Ohio. I couldn’t figure out how they managed not to fall on the uneven ground they walked on. All the bubbles flying in the air attracted our attention. We watched for about fifteen minutes before the girls decided to get involved. The oldest one ended up with a collection of bubbles in her hair. I enjoyed the music; it brought back a lot of memories. I was not too fond of the band’s version of the Joplin song.
What we didn’t like about Groovin at Hippie Fest
Rooster and I have an aversion to phony stuff. Hippie Fest isn’t an exclusive local festival because an outside company brings their stuff and puts on the event. I saw more tie-dye there than I’d seen during the entire sixties and seventies. Most of the attractions in this festival consisted of vendors selling so-called hippie items. Rooster complained that after they charged so much at the gate, they should have offered something more than row after row of vendors. The grandchildren were bored almost as soon as we walked through the entrance. Also, the psychedelic painted VW Bugs gave the impression it was the only mode of vehicles the hippie drove.
While the Bug did play a role in hippie culture, the most popular forms of transportation included the thumb and mom and dad’s cast-off car. They tended to be gas hogs, but the price of fuel was only 25 cents a gallon. You could panhandle at the mall and come up with a couple of dollars in no time.
Overall opinion of Hippie Fest
Rooster and I won’t return to this event next year unless we come alone. We might have enjoyed bringing a lawn chair and listening to the music. The grandkids weren’t interested. Hippie Fest did provide a few interesting attractions, but next time we will skip the vendors. Overall, we didn’t feel like the event was worth the price of admission. There wasn’t even one Frisbee tossed into the air the entire time we were there.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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