Sonshine Fest: Great Time: 1 – Sleep: 0 – Rescued Children: ?

20 07 2008

Buddy and I headed a couple of hours east this weekend for lots of music and very little (read:none) sleep.  No, I did not acquire a different husband, nor did we adopt any children recently.  Buddy is our only son, Alex.  I call him “Buddy” because, well, somehow, it makes it seem less “real” that he’s almost 19, over 6 feet tall, a high school graduate and not “my little boy” anymore.  We’ve always been buddies though and he doesn’t mind the moniker at all; so I take advantage whenever I can!

We headed to Sonshine Festival to work with Compassion International.  This particular outdoor festival is held annually, in Willmar, MN.  It started on Wednesday with a free concert by Jars of Clay.  The “official” festival began on Thursday.  We opted to go until Friday, because I can only manage so many sleepless nights before my normal level of insanity rises to a very-difficult-to-manage-scary-mom level.  It’s not pretty I assure you.  My kids will tell you too; once they come out of hiding.

Upon our arrival, we began the search for the “perfect” camping site.  Now, keep in mind here, that when I say “camping,” what I actually mean is purchasing our food from festival vendors and sleeping in a pick up truck.

Our family is actually quite adept at camping.  The real kind, with tents, tarps, open fires, backpacks, nature, forests, mosquitoes and such.  But, for such a short trip and just two of us, we opted for what we thought would be the easier option.  We’d just sleep in the truck.  Our pickup truck has a short bed.  Just 5 1/4 feet long.  This is generally OK for just about anything.  Anything that is, except sleeping when you’re 5’10” and 6’1″ respectively.   We will NOT discuss weight issues here as that’s strictly verboten!

After much driving around said festival site, we finally found the perfect spot.  Perfect here in the sense that it was, mostly level, not full of water, and in close proximity to the bathrooms.  In our case, close proximity was actually VERY close.  We ended up parking right next to a very lovely row of little blue “huts” filled with alcohol-based sanitary wash, mammoth sized rolls of toilet paper, and air freshener cakes the size of pizzas and you know; the stuff that these little huts are designed to be filled with.

On a not-so-side-note, the great people of Sonshine Fest did a fantastic job of keeping the porta potties clean and stocked and the trash skips emptied. Never have I been in a cleaner porta potty!

We got to see Hawk Nelson, Barlow Girl, David Crowder Band and Toby Mac and many others.  Check out the site to see a complete list.  The Compassion booth was set up right next to the artist autograph tables so we had a birdseye view of lots of signings.  Poor Toby didn’t quite know how to respond to the lady that got his signature and walked away without receiving the obligatory “knucke rap” from him.  He looked dejected to say the least.  She soon returned however and he was fine.

Suffice it to say that after a long day of outdoor work, I was not inclined to be encased in said truck bed with my son; or anyone else for that matter!

Being the gentleman that Buddy is (he truly is a sweetheart!), he said that he’d sleep in the cab so I could have the truck bed (lined with self-inflating sleep pads) to myself.

You moms are saying ” how sweet!  What a thoughtful boy.  Now she has the entire truck bed to herself!”

The sons are saying “what a pushover!  Little does she realize that the windows in here open wider and I have the keys if I feel the need for air conditioning or music beyond the 12 hours I’ve already listened to.”

Bedding down for the night was supossed to be fairly straight forward.  Notice I say supossed to be.  Does everyone here know “Murphy” or does he only live at my house?  First off, two of the three self-inflating sleep mats we packed would not self-inflate.  Apparently, in order for these wonders to work, they cannot contain any holes; or have the valves cut off.  Guess we missed this little tidbit when packing.  So, now I had one inflated pad and two “cotton swabs” to sleep on.  No problem.  I’m tough.  How bad can it be?  Well, let me tell you how bad it can be!  First off, the bottom of a truck bed isn’t actually flat.  It’s “ribbed.”  That means that it’s more like sleeping on a horizontal ladder than in a bed.  Add this to the humid weather, the bright lights, the loud music, and the even louder 13,000,000 teenagers we happened to be sharing the camping field with, and this does not make for ideal sleeping conditions.

No, it does not.  It doesn’t even come close!  In fact, it comes closer to how-stupid-are-you-that-you-actually-think-you-are-going-get-any-sleep-while-here-conditions.

Actually, not close at all.  Perfect actually.

After a sleepless night of trying to find just the perfect section of ladder to rest on, combined with feeling and hearing my son toss and turn all night along with the other 13,000,000 of us, I opted to go ahead and let Saturday morning begin despite not being able to remember when Friday night ended.

Realizing that the many food vendors present were not properly stocked up on anything remotely “breakfast” oriented, if you don’t count the mini fried donuts and the funnel cakes, we decided to risk losing our perfect camping spot in order to seek out genuine breakfast-type sustainence in town.  Our search didn’t take long and we were rewarded with a very filling, carbohydrate-laden, sweet-tooth-satisfying meal.  $25 later, we returned to the festival to begin day two.  As luck would have it, we found what we thought was an even more perfect camping spot.  Right in front of the entrance to the civic center and aptly located near the REAL restrooms!  Sorry porta potty.  I was opting for indoor plumbing.

Properly parked and armed with all our necessary festival attending gear, we headed in to do our duty.  For those of  you who may not be Christian-music-outdoor-festival-officianados, let me give you the rundown.

First, never go to one of these events without the proper seating equipment.  By this I mean, the folding camping chair.  Of course, we forgot ours so a quick trip to Wallyworld was in order.

Next, don’t forget the big, golf umbrella.  Because if you can count on one thing (even more than music) at these events, it’s rain; or sun, or wind, or hail, or snow, or sleet, or any combination thereof.  We forgot this too.

Third, you will tend to dehydrate while sitting outdoors at said festival so bring a big cooler with lots of water.  We forgot this too.

Fourth, NEVER attend these types of things without copious amounts of sunscreen.  You WILL burn to a crisp in a matter of mere minutes.  Trust me, I know these things from years of first hand experience.  I grew up in south Florida afterall.  We forgot this too.

Also, a hat.  To protect you from the same things as the umbrella, but on a smaller level; just in case the umbrella has to use the facilities, or blows away in the wind; or is “procured” by a more needy individual.  Yep!  We forgot these too.

Did I mention that this was our first event of this type?



I just assumed you’d have figured this out by now.

After all this festival-attendance-required-gear-purchasing (and a quick check to see how much our Wallyworld stock went up), we settled in for what we hoped would be another great day of music and and even greater day for potential sponsors of Compassion children.  We were not disappointed (sleep deprived, but not disappointed)!

At the festival’s end, (awesome close out by The Newsboys), we returned to our “home-away-from-home” for what we hoped would be a better night’s sleep.  NOT!  We switched places this time, but it didn’t matter any.  We just tossed and turned in different spots.  I had to fend off the pesky seat belt buckles instead of the horizontal ladder, and the parking lot lighting was bright enough to simulate daytime just about anywhere.  Combined with the constant noise from the all night deconstruction of the concert stages and the ever-departing vehicles of various sizes and sounds, this was worse than the first night.  Note:  Do not park next to the motorcycle parking area if you want any sleep at all.  Or near the main stage.  Or in the well-lit parking lot.  Or within 20 miles of the festival for that matter.

At 6:15 AM, after finally giving up on any prospect of sleep, we dressed and made our way home.

It was an almost perfect weekend!  Not only were we privvy to some truly gifted and passionate artists, with incredible amounts of talent (and lots of ear-drum-popping-equipment), but we were blessed to be a part of a record breaking event!  Last year, just over 400 hundred children were rescued from poverty by people who were willing to give a little so others could have the means to live.  This year?  Over 525 children were sponsored!  EVERY child that was marked “priority” (one who’s waited over 6 months for a sponsor) was sponsored.  I spoke to many new sponsors who said they were searching for a way to make a difference.  They were excited about the prospect of being able to impact a life in such a powerful way.  God makes the impact; we are His tools.  We were well used this weekend and it was wonderful.

Next stop?  Higher Ground in Winstead, MN.  Hope to see you there!

Bring your required festival gear; and ear plugs; and a sleep mask; and the number to the nearest hotel with vacancies.



2 responses

22 07 2008

Beth, Thank you for the sweet comment on my birthday. thank you for taking the time to do such a kind thing.

Much love, Barb (Brody’s mom)

23 07 2008

It sounds like you will have some great memories from working that festival.

About 15 years ago, the group of guy I grew up with decided to go to a promise keepers conference. We ended up staying at a camp site. As you probably could imagine we kind of goofed of once we got to the camp site at night. One morning while standing in line to use the showers, one of the other groups camping there began to complain about this loud group of guys acting like kids. I tried to find a place to hide when someone else who camped across from us said it was great the a bunch of men could get together and be themselves while enjoying each other company. There was a lot of material that was covered during that conference, but what I remember most was the fellowship with all my friends.


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