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A tent city of the best kind has sprung up in Nelson County, as campers put their own, personal stamp on temporary dwellings.
Campers unpack their tents and supplies Thursday night at the LockN' music festival in Nelson County. Sam O'Keefe/The News & Advance
Anthony DiGiacco uses his cell phone as he wakes up Friday morning in a hammock hanging in the forest camping area of LockN'. Sam O'Keefe/The News & Advance
Max McLellan blows up an air mattress as he sets up his campsitet at tent-only camping area at LockN' after arriving from Austin, Texas earlier in the day Thursday. Sam O'Keefe/The News & Advance
Bill Norcross cooks up sausage patties and eggs for his group Friday morning as campers stir from their tents to cook breakfast. Sam O'Keefe/The News & Advance
Caitlin Webb (left) and Kayci Browning talk together in the shade of their makeshift tent Friday morning after leaving from Atlanta late Thursday night. Sam O'Keefe/The News & Advance
Sunday, September 8, 2013
ARRINGTON — Nelson County is witnessing a temporary boom in population this weekend, as thousands of music enthusiasts make the grounds of the Oak Ridge Estate near Lovingston their home away from home at the first Lockn’ music festival.
From the shaded, mellow comfort of the forest camping section, to the crowded, bustling sea of the tents-only camping area, to the more fancy VIP camping and RV lots, festival goers have found lots of different ways to put their personal stamp on their campsites.
Walking through the crowded tents-only camping area, you encounter tents of all shapes and sizes, everything from tiny two-person pop-ups to giant tents big enough for 10 with screened-in porches and outdoor canopies.
Traffic delays Thursday afternoon left some campers behind schedule in tent construction, but that didn’t stop their efforts to build the perfect weekend getaway.
Late Thursday, as the final notes of music floated through the air, three young men struggled to rig a tarp between three tents, creating one mega-tent area where they could socialize with their friends. Another campsite sported a sign that read, “Family Spot. Tent en route, on the rise.”
For tents-only campers Brendan Dunlevy and Pureum Lee, who both came up from Charlotte for the festival, the seven-hour wait outside the gates — which Lee called “brutal” — may have altered their schedule, but didn’t ruin their camping experience.
“Besides the wait, it’s been good,” Lee said, adding that he had a “surprisingly” refreshing night’s sleep after a long day Thursday.
Although many tents-only campers added lights, flags and other decorations to spruce up their sleeping areas, the truly luxurious setups were down the hill a bit, closer to the performance area, in the VIP camping section.
Campers willing to spend a little extra dough got priority spots, with their cars backed right up to tents, canopies and other homelike structures, along with a clear view to the festival stage.
For Thatcher Taylor, part of a seven-person crew that drove 16 hours from Alabama, the higher ticket cost and hours of labor put into building his home away from home were worth it for a four-day festival like Lockn’.
Taylor, an Eagle Scout and experienced tent structure engineer, spent about 10 hours total constructing a three-tent-wide, A-frame structure complete with 10 two-person hammocks. All the members of his seven-person crew contributed to decorating the spot, painting the Lockn’ logo atop the concert-facing section of the roof and covering each wooden beam within with unique decorations.
“It was an incredible night’s sleep,” Taylor said of the group’s first night at the festival.
A few yards up the hill from Taylor and his friends, Mark and Debbie Wimmer of Milwaukee spent Friday morning relaxing outside their “Super VIP” tent. Guests who chose that option arrived to a spacious tent pre-constructed for them and raised slightly above the ground. Costs for VIP and Super VIP packages ranged from about $600 to more than $1,000.
Many, like the Wimmers, “personalized” their Super VIP spots, adding decorations, signs, canopies and smaller tents out front.
The couple said they chose the Super VIP option for this festival because the RV spaces were all sold out, and they were hoping for “comfort and convenience.”
That desire for comfort and convenience, as well as air conditioning and electricity, is why Lane and Valerie Stern, from Richmond, towed a camper west to Nelson County for the weekend.
Making coffee and snacking on cereal in the RV section before the music started Friday morning, the Sterns said although the challenges getting into the festival made for a rocky start, their hopes are still high for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s a beautiful spot,” Valerie Stern said, looking out at the view from the RV section high on the hill.
Directly below them, hundreds of tents spread across the rolling green acres. Down and to the right, the white pointed tents of the performance area stood out above the smaller structures housing vendors.
And in the distance, the Blue Ridge mountains rose in shades of soft purple, blue and green, framed against a clear blue sky.
Of all the festivals the Sterns have been too, she said, “this is the most beautiful site.”
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