Big Valley Jamboree 2014

Two weeks after my inaugural music festival experience, I found myself making another 3-hour road trip towards another weekend filled with musical entertainment; this time, it was from Calgary to Camrose, and it was all about the country music.
It was also a lot flatter than B.C.’s Pemberton.

After 45 minutes of futile pumping of an air mattress, discovering the unplugged hole, then successfully inflating it in about 10 minutes, we made the 2-kilometre trek to the music grounds where we listened and danced to the band playing on stage before finally returning to bed around 1:30AM. It was around this time we began to realize what our weekend would look like:

Very loud music. A lot of alcohol. A lot of people consuming alcohol. Alcohol being consumed by people at every hour of the day (and night). Temperature fluctuations in our small tent. High-energy crowds to pump up the atmosphere and get everyone psyched for exciting evenings.
It seemed that all of those things occurred in cycles throughout the first night we spent in Camrose, listening to the incessantly loud music of our nearest neighbours and watched the lightening flashes illuminate our tent; these events went on until around 7AM. 
The morning finally hit us, after repeatedly waking and sleeping, and we decided to get to know our campgrounds and festival grounds a little better – the day was sunny, hot, and full of partyers continuing from the night before!

While few artists played through the first day that we knew, we spent a lot of time making the trek back and forth from our campsite – a solid exercise after three times in one day (about 12 kilometres total, not counting the dancing in between). The Marketplace was a favourite stop of ours to get out of the heat – we took in many sales pitches and came so very close to purchasing two app-controlled bartending packages – “The Perfect Drink” – because they are COOL, man.  That is really the only word that seems to capture it, and I do not use that word to describe almost anything.

Our first big show to take in was Hunter Hayes, who jumped and ran and sang and guitar’d for an impressively long time during his 1:15 hour set. His very pop-country style was livened by his enthusiasm for what he was doing, and it made you want to join him!

The next two days went a lot like the first: Wake up, eat our hummus and tarts and fruit for breakfast, avoid the food vendors (who did not cater well to anyone hoping to eat healthy, let alone following a veg*n diet), take in a couple of songs from unfamiliar artists, and walk back and forth from the campsite while dodging tipsy festival-goers. We took some time off to go drive into town and re-stock a couple of grocery items and explore the town of Camrose during the middle of the days where we found we had little to do if our desires did not include drinking from sunrise.

While we generally avoided the food vendors, I did decide that it is part of the experience to indulge at least once – so we shared a fried-bannock vegan hot dog. It was more bannock with a side of hot dog than the other way around, but it inspired us to avoid indulging again! I should note that it was good – but it would have been better if it was smaller.

The bannock bun vegan hot dog.

With no pictures to capture any degree of their magic, I can only describe the Saturday performance by Zac Brown Band (the second time I’ve seen them live!) as magical and unifying for the crowd. Their music, in my opinion, can be appreciated by a wide variety of individuals with a variety of tastes in music.

Additionally, by Saturday, I was really feeling the momentum my cold had been gaining – my evening coughing had become a more constant event, and my voice was becoming lost to the world as I sang along to Zac Brown Band. When my voice was only half-functioning on Sunday, I began to rest it in preparation for Kip Moore – our final show to take in before hitting the road back to YYC.

Kip Moore was great! He addressed the glaringly obvious issue with the set-up of the stage at the festival: Half of the audience was sitting down, maybe more, while the rest who wanted to dance were in the general admission 3/4 of the way back in the field from the stage. He came all the way over to us and sang just feet away from J and I! It was glorious and exciting and a perfect end to a fun weekend!

Since we skipped the final act (sorry, Miranda Lambert), we were able to quietly take in the scenery of the campground on our way back to the truck…

 The ride home began with a red sun, setting along the prairie horizon that had been painted with light hues of reds and purples and oranges. Once it fell beyond the land, and the sky grew dark, we witnessed a lightening storm come and go over top of Calgary from over 100 kilometres away – it was awesome!

Now I am back home, and it turns out that my cold was a bit more of a chest infection sort of dealio, so I have time to blog! Hopefully I’ll be back on the health wagon soon, because I only have two weeks left until I begin my contract as a Residence Advisor – summer is speeding by me, and I must ensure I grab on to the rest of it while I can! Some final relaxation probably would do me some good, anyhow.

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