Another Festival for the Eno has passed. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the festival. For those not familiar, the festival is a local music and artist festival for which the proceeds go to preserving the Eno River. A bit of trivia: the Eno River (and several actual street names in my neighborhood) is mentioned in Stranger Things. The Duffer brothers are from the same neighborhood. Eno River is part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, it passes through the Occoneeccee Speedway I got to visit last week, and it nears Bennett Place where General Sherman first declared the end end of the American Civil War. Where the festival is held is known as West Point at the Eno. It has a few remaining homesteads and a working grain mill where you can still buy cornmeal ground by antique machinery. One of the homes belonged to early photographer Hugh Mangum. This is a charcoal drawing I did of one of his portraits:
I’ve been going to the festival almost every summer since 1983, only missing due to my years living in Seattle and times after moving back to NC when having toddlers to chase after. My parents became huge Doc Watson when we moved to North Carolina from Utah. Doc Watson and his son played the Eno festival, so it attracted my parents’ attention very early on. The festival was my first real exposure to grassroots culture and things like the Society for Creative Anachronism. We returned year after year.
More recently, I try to volunteer for the festival. I’ve helped put up the Big Top tent, which is an enormous shelter that takes dozens of people to help erect, helped guide cars, worked the information booth, and did face painting. This year, I helped man a booth for work. We create the festival guide for Eno every year.
The first day this year, I saw bands like Chatham Rabbits and House and Land. Both are a bit old-timey, but House and Land range also ventures into medieval to progressive sounds. We bought their vinyl. It definitely grew on me!
There was a freak thunderstorm that day. Even though there were storms predicted, we didn’t expect to have lightning actually strike feet from the river. I’ve heard that people in the water felt the electricity zap them. I wrote the poem “Bolt” about my experience. It got to over 100F that day. After the storm, the temperature dropped 30 degrees.
The second day of the festival brought another day of excessive heat and added soupy humidity to the air. There was a threat of storms again, but they luckily never developed. It was a beautiful day! I got to see some of my friends play music on stage, and got to dance and get super sweaty to the band Tan and Sober Gentlemen. Such a great time!
I was told I looked like a “wilted flower” by the end of the day. I woke up like this:
I’m definitely not a summer person, but I look forward to the Eno festival every year. See you next year!
Click on these links for more information:
Eno River Festival
Eno River State Park
Eno River Association
Historic Occoneechee Speedway
House and Land
Tan and Sober Gentlemen