s
s
Sections
Sections
Search
Subscribe

At Kate Wolf Music Festival, camping's half the fun


By now, you probably know if you're going camping at Kate Wolf Festival next weekend. And you probably know all about the headliners Joan Baez, Los Lobos, Jackie Greene and the Indigo Girls. And the yoga and tai chai sessions in the meadow. And maybe even the wooden, sunlit showers that everyone stands in line for.

But if it's your first time pitching a tent on the Hog Farm, you might have a few questions.

Consider the options:

— There's the Riverside Camp, where no vehicles are allowed.

— The Meadowlands is the largest camp site, allowing RVs, trucks and car-camping with tents.

— Quiet Camp is at the south end of Meadlowlands, reserved for those who would rather not stay up for the all-night revelry.

— And Family Camp is for those with kids, located near the Bath House, Food Court and Kids Area.

— Not to mention the backstage Bear Camp, the clothing-optional beaches and the Hobo Jungle fire-pit jam sessions that go late into the night.

Put them all together and it's one big, happy, musical family — in the spirit of Woodstock, but without the howling rains, bad acid and total muddy mess afterward.

"My favorite stories over the years are about folks that have met at the festival, many times by camping near each other, fallen in love, gotten married and now have kids that they are bringing to the festival," says promoter Cloud Moss, who has produced the festival since it started in 1996 at Caswell Vineyards in Sebastopol.

It moved in 2001 to the 150-acre Black Oak Ranch, a part of the 750-acre Hog Farm run by counter-culture comic Wavy Gravy in Laytonville, in the back woods of Mendocino County.

Just in case you need a little help navigating the campgrounds next weekend, we consulted a few experts — imagine them as your summer camp counselors — who have slept under the stars at the Hog Farm for nearly two decades. Here's their advice:

Name: Jill Libnic

Occupation: High school teacher

Lives in: Sebastopol

Trips to the festival: This will be her 19th

Lays her head at: Bear Camp

Favorite camping tip: "If you're using an air mattress, bring two wool blankets — one to go between the air mattress and the ground — the mattress gets filled with cold air and can get really cold at night — and one to go between you and the mattress."

Bonus tip: "Don't forget to read the signs. One year I was taking the path down to the clothing-optional beach, but somehow I missed the signs.

"When I got to the river, I took off my clothes. I noticed everyone else had their clothes on or bathing suits, but didn't really think much about it.

"On my way back, I saw the signs and thought, 'Oh my god — I went to the wrong beach!' But nobody said anything or cared at all."

****

Name: Jim Corbett

Lives in: Sebastopol

Occupation: Musician (aka "Mr. Music")

Trips to the festival: This will be his 19th

Lays his head at: Love Camp, where the 45-member-strong Love Choir sets up camp every year. (Don't miss their Sunday morning gospel show as they march through camp singing "Down in the River to Pray.")

Camping tip: "I'm in charge of the coffee, which is not easy when you have 45 people waking up groggy. But we've got it down to an art form now. We use one of those propane 'blaster' stoves that heats up the whole pot."

Bonus tip: "People start lining up at like 5 in the morning to set up their low-back chairs in front of the stage they want to see. But during the day, if nobody's in that chair, you can sit in it. That's the way it works."

****

Name: Craig Shaw

Lives in: Graton

Occupation: Owner of Shaw Signs and Designs

Trips to the festival: This will be his 19th

Lays his head at: Bear Camp

Camping tip: "I bring an Igloo cooler with the spout at the bottom and fill it up a gallon at a time, making trips back and forth to the water station. I use a card table to set it up on, along with the camping stove."

Bonus tip: "Make sure to bring a little radio so you can tune into the show — it's around 89 on the dial.

"That way, if you go away from the stage, like down to the river or back to your camp, you don't miss anything."

Freelancer John Beck, author of the "2014 World Cup Survival Guide," writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014 or john@beckmedia productions.com.