Summer festivals celebrate individuality

Festival goers gets into a rhythm as Shemehia Copeland plays at Blues and Brews festival Saturday, June 20, 2015.

As the weather gets warmer, many people will be seeking opportunities for fun outdoor activities and local and larger scale festivals prepare to provide entertainment and a sense of community to those who attend. Regardless of the celebration, Flagstaff residents said the popularity of festivals is increasing, especially for the summertime events.

Flagstaff resident Nicole Urbowicz said the prominent music festivals like Summerfest and Coachella are growing in popularity because of the great publicity they have and also because they offer an opportunity for people to see many of their favorite artists within more mainstream genres.

“I think it’s getting to the point where a lot of people go to music festivals so a lot of people hear about it and want to go to one,” Urbowicz said.

Urbowicz also said local festivals like Hullabaloo and Pride in the Pines are becoming more popular due to Flagstaff’s growing population, as well as the sense of connectedness and togetherness these events can offer to the community.

“Most of the local festivals are put on very well and they’re growing, which is great,” Urbowicz said. “It’s really fun to see the whole town come together for something like that, to do something fun.”

Flagstaff resident Camile Wishart said regardless of the size and popularity of the festival, there is always something that ties the group of attendees together.

“I think festivals can appeal to most people because summer is the ideal time for outdoor events and everyone can get involved,” Wishart said. “The culture is always positive.”

Urbowicz said that although the uniting factor of more mainstream music festivals is popular music, there are represented subgenres that allow for people with similar interests to come together. The capacity of the event also allows for people to become introduced to music they otherwise would not hear and meet people they would otherwise never meet.

“I like exploring the different kinds of music at the festivals,” Urbowicz said.

Urbowicz said the people one would meet at large music festivals are typically younger adults. She said this can be great for people in college to meet people and make friends around their age, but it would be difficult for prominent music festivals to be geared towards a more diverse age group.

“Music festivals tend to appeal to a college population because people who are out of college usually have a nine to five job and work 40 hours a week,” Urbowicz said. “It’s kind of hard to take that much time off, whereas in college, it can be done more easily.”

Because they don’t require as much of a time and traveling commitment, Flagstaff local Rylan Shannon said local festivals are accessible to anyone and everyone and can provide a more affordable and encompassing experience than larger music festivals.

“They’re usually during the weekends,” Shannon said. “So it’s just a fun way people want to devote their time off and have a really nice, relaxing day.”

Being more accessible to locals, Flagstaff festivals can draw diverse crowds with similar interests solely being to celebrate what the festival is celebrating and to have a fun and relaxing time.

“You get people from all walks of life that come,” Shannon said. “You get large families, you get people from out of town, so it’s a really cool way to meet people and just see who all shares the same interests with what the festival shares and celebrates.”

Urbowicz said that attending local festivals is a great way for people to dip their toes in genres or cultures they may find interesting. She said because of the welcoming, celebratory culture of festivals, they are the perfect way to discover new things.

“At festivals here, the music is not as mainstream so you can go and explore new stuff,” Urbowicz said. “And a lot of the bands are local so that’s great because you’re supporting local artists.”

Shannon said the local festivals are a great opportunity for tourists to get a taste of the Flagstaff community as summer is one of Flagstaff’s biggest tourist seasons. He said that while the summer festivals allow for residents to become connected with the community, they also allow for outsiders to be introduced to the unique connectedness Flagstaff has as well.

“The festivals contribute to Flagstaff’s summer experience because they really build off that sense of a community experience because they’re very interactive and outside and you get to enjoy the weather and meet new people and see what’s out there,” Shannon said. “So it’s just a good way to learn about your community and build ties to it.”

Urbowicz said for some people, festivals can be something definitive of a summertime experience, regardless of if they’re big and international or small and local. She said they’re often things people look forward to in the summer even though festivals happen throughout the year. According to Urbowicz, festivals are fun and offer a feeling of freedom that people often associate with the summertime.

To ensure safety and enjoyment during summer festivals, Wishart said the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated.

Shannon said it is important to always bring cash to local festivals.

Urbowicz said it is important to know oneself and their personal boundaries when it comes to being around so many people, and recommends attending local festivals as a sort of training for bigger, more populous music festivals.

“If you’re anxious about being around a lot of people, go to a small festival first before you decide to go to a big festival because you don’t want to have a bad experience the first time you go,” Urbowicz said.

Regardless of what a festival might be celebrating, Urbowicz said they are meant to be fun and relaxing. She said festivals may be a celebration of something in particular that allow for people of similar interests to come together and enjoy what they love, but they are also a means for people with great differences to come together and celebrate what they don’t have in common, which ultimately is what makes a community.