The music doesn’t begin until three o’clock Friday, which gives people plenty of time to catch the opening acts. But the line of cars outside the gates looks endless. It’s not unusual to sit in traffic outside the gates for up to six hours.
Much to the chagrin of many of the campers there's tiered camping. General campers often sneer as they walk by the VIP areas. They're located just off the gates, have plenty of space between camps and are rumored to have shuttles and complementary ice cream. Apparently there's a lot of glamping—glamor camping—this year as well. Think of Paws Up if you've never heard of it before. For much more than everyone else pays you and a friend can stay in a luxurious cabin for two just off the grounds.
This is a festival for the young. Throngs of twentysomethings wearing next to nothing or ridiculous vintage clothes troll the camps and make friends they’ll party with then likely never see again. Almost everyone is clutching a beer can and yelling something or other but somehow the herds of cows in the neighboring field aren’t phased.
Need your palm read? Face painted? What about a breakfast burrito? You're sure to find someone selling it. But even if you just want to hang out it's a welcoming place. Possibly the best part of the campground life is the sense of community everyone has. It's amazing to me that people can be crammed in such tight quarters, drunk or high on God knows what and still be so kind and respectful to each other.
Friday’s the most rambunctious day of all not only is everyone feeling fresh but they’re still brimming with anticipation. Don’t get me wrong, the party literally doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t maintain the same energy. Groups don’t mix like they do this first day. You can bet that by Sunday afternoon— instead of making friends at every porta potty— people just get to where they need to go.
Canadians make up the largest group going to the festival by far. There are no official stats but practically everyone you meet and many of the license plates hail from Saskatchewan or British Columbia. When I asked why they travel so far to be here they all say roughly the same thing, “There’s just nothing like this where we are.”