Autumn Meet 2017: "Dancing with our Ancestors"
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Article ID: 16064
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 52
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Author: Daniella Waterhawk [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 25th. 2018
Times Viewed: 2,696
Sponsored by: Pheonix Festivals
Location: Maddox Ranch, Lakeland, FL
Event Date(s): October 11 - 15, 2017
The drive to get to Autumn Meet Pagan Festival wasn’t bad, about 2 1/2 hours for us coming up from the Ft Myers area. This Festival is held at the Maddox Ranch, in Lakeland Florida and is a much shorter drive than most of the festivals we have driven to throughout the years. We were warmly greeted, found our camping spot and set up. We were lucky to have been invited to stay and be involved with "Dru's Camp", which was the highlight of our festival experience. Food, drink, stories, music, and friends, both old and new. Daniella and I have not been to a Phoenix festival in years after having a faling lout with a previous promoter. Now under "new" management, it's a huge team effort with many people working very hard to make a great experience for their guests. Even have free community coffee in the mornings. Huge plus.
We went with the expectations of reuniting with old friends and having new experiences... and we were not disappointed. It was truly fun to see our old friends, ; Elspeth and Nybor were among the many. These two Elders have been the wonders of many Festivals, sharing their Magicine and stories, and to be with them both was an Honor.
Now, the Festival attendance was low. We don't know the exact numbers but would say about around 125 people. Could be wrong, so one would have to go to their website to find the exact number. The low attendance could have been due to Hurricane Irma. Many people had their homes damaged so finances and timing could have attributed to the low attendance. But that was okay, as it gave people an opportunity to get to know more about their camping neighbors. When a Festival gets big in numbers it is often hard to get that cozy, intimate feeling with so many around.
The camping area was nice. The sponsors had the area laid out well. One did not have to go too far for whatever their needs. There was "Pete and Pegs Roadhouse Grill" which served pretty good food at reasonable prices. Nice to have food vendors when one doesn't want to cook at the campsite. The "Jamaican Air Shuttles" (Porta Potties) were well kept up and some had hand-washing facilities. (Those who camp often know what a good deal that is) .
There were few vendors, but that worked out well, and the attendees’ shopping needs were well met by those who did set up. Daniella and I vended, but since we didn't get to camp by our vending booth, we stayed open about three hours and then shut down. We go to festivals to interact "first" with the people, not just to vend. The community comes first, plain and simple. Maybe next year we will have that opportunity for a combo vendor/camping site.
The main Ritual was interactive", which is important to Daniella and I. We feel that it's important to bring in the People when doing work in the Circle, not just leave folks standing outside looking in. We want to be involved, not watch outdoor TV.
The entertainment was great for the time that the bands were there. Now, here's my thought: The Pagan Community has a large contingent of talent. Really, really great talent. These are people who come into the festival as entertainers, and then stay, interact, and involve themselves within the Festival time. Why sponsors hire a "band/s" that comes into the community, plays their gig, stands around for 30 minutes tearing down and interacting with their groupies, and then leaves is beyond me. I understand the sponsors of some festivals thinking that a "Big Name band" will be a draw...but really, people come to the festival to meet friends, make new friends, interact (for days) with the community, go to the workshops to learn new things, and drum and dance around the fire circle...for days. Bringing in entertainment for 90 minutes and then they leave is..well..WTF!
As for Drummers... Here are people who will come in, play for 4-8 hours each night for the community.. well, that's entertainment for the festival! But, one must have GOOD drummers who know what they are doing and so can bring the energy to the people. At Autumn Meet, the fire circle was a bit tame, and that may be, as I mentioned above, because the general attendance was low; I don't know. Thus the Drum Circle was sparse to say the least. If a festival considers a drum circle to be an integral part of its general atmosphere and of importance in both draw and overall spiritual experience, there MUST have a good Drum facilitator and good drummers who know what they are doing within the circle. Next time, maybe the sponsors will give a thought to hiring a drum group.
The workshop presenters did what they were supposed to: They shared and taught. Thank you, Grandmother Elspeth, for your service to the community. You have long been a wonderful Human to the people. You should be given the utmost gratitude in my eyes. Thank you, Ivo Dominguez Jr., for the knowledge you share and for your ever presence and availability. We saw you talking and sharing with many people. Thank you, Ghosthawk, for the Lodges. And thank you tp all the other workshop presenters. And thank you, Dru.... you were truly the highlight of our stay!. You gave SO much. You were the festival within the festival and the hostess with the mostest!. I trust we will be invited again into your circle when we return.
So, would Daniella and I return to this festival? Absolutely! To us, festivals are about the PEOPLE, the friends, young and old. About the Magicine that is brought onto the land. We know that AuntumnMeet will only get better....And we do not want to miss this Festival again...ever! Thank you Phoenix Phamily. You do good!
Location: Buckingham, Florida
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