WOOHOO!!! Friend Fest at Amish Acres in Nappanee, IN is awesomesauce! I know there are LOTS of music festivals out there but the folks at WFRN did their homework and have created the most family-friendly Christian music event I have been to or read about. That this was just their second year is even more impressive. “What makes it so family-friendly?” you are wondering (I just know you are). Money, for one thing. Families want to take their families to worship with these A-MA-ZING bands but not everyone can afford all that a music festival entails, especially big families. You are usually nickeled and dimed for any and all amenities.
First, the biggie for us was food, if you want to call that an amenity. Friend Fest allows food to be brought in! I’ve not been to a festival that allowed you to bring food in. A friend just informed this weekend that another popular festival recently banned even eating in the parking lot. Say wha? No tailgating? Good grief… Food was available for purchase at Friend Fest, there was a water tent at the back of the field (only a buck a bottle!), snow cones and ice cream on a hot day were perfect (they even had vendors walking through the crowd selling ice cream out of a cooler). There was no lack of sweet, cold stuff. BUT we brought 9 kids with us. Purchasing food for 11 people is not cheap…even when buying cheap food. It adds up, dontcha know? We were able to keep our crew hydrated and nourished all day without paying out the wazoo. That we didn’t purchase food from Amish Acres didn’t seem to hurt their business; the food lines stayed busy and we saw plenty of folks munching on their yums. Meanwhile, our clan kept busy snacking on Capri Suns, strawberries, Cloud Cakes and a variety of other items we rarely indulge in then we dined on Pulled BBQ Pork, BBQ Beans and Sweet n Sour Broccoli Slaw. It’s nice having catering equipment to keep our vittles hot. 🙂 Did we make folks around us jealous? Maybe just a little. 🙂 That being said, we saved a fortune!
Secondly, there was no additional charge for the Kids Zone. There was even a Children’s Stage that featured juggling, an illusionist, illusions, music, puppetry and clowning around. Of course, the Bounc House area is a kid’s favorite part of the festival. I was a little disturbed, though, by the Gator Hide-and-Slide. The kids climb up into the gator’s mouth,
bounce around inside
then come out the back end.
When I went to take pics of my lovely children exiting the inflatable reptile, I didn’t find a slide as expected, I found a slit. I said, “Oh, unt uh…” Craig said, “Yep. That’s where they come out.” No no no…that’s messed up. I told my Lenae that the designer of said gator must not have liked kids. She quickly replied, “Or really likes them and knows how kids think. What kid wouldn’t love to say they were pooped out of an alligator?” She has a point.
Thirdly, free parking. Nuff said.
Fourthly, the Coffee House Stage. If you had attended Friend Fest and wanted to hear some other musicians and Break-Out Sessions with some of the Main Stage artists while using the, again, FREE Wi-Fi and drinking your gourmet coffee, this was the place for you.
#5 The Venue: Amish Acres is a fantastic location for an event like this! It’s clean, it’s lovely, it’s big! It’s also just 5 minutes away from Play-Mor Campground which means a lot to those of us who prefer “roughing it” in an air-conditioned camper. Primitive camping is available at Fountain Acres but that’s not roughing it to me. That’s dying a slow death of humidity and allergies. The only thing I would change is placing a canopy section in the rear for those who don’t want to melt especially those with children, “older” folks and those wearing walking casts whose legs get over heated…not that I know anyone like that.
Sixthly, yes there’s more…The staff and volunteers were incredible friendly from the time you pull in to park. Some of the crazy antics of those directing parking had us smiling from ear to ear. Everyone was eager to assist, hospitable and, you could tell, happy to be there serving.
SEVEN: stewardship. I was tickled to read the following in the program: “It takes 3-4 years for a festival of this magnitude to sustain itself. Currently, ticket sales, sponsors and partners cover just 80% of the festival’s total expenses. We are almost there, yet it is still not quite enough.” 80% and it’s just the second year! They accomplished this without charging for parking, the Kids Zone, and every other little thing and without forcing folks to purchase their food. Kudos! As soon as I’m able, I hope to become a Friend Fest Partner. We need to sell more cheesecake.
Eight: Enough space for Ultimate Frisbee. The kids did mention that Frisbee to Building 429 made them feel like they were in a movie or a music video, LOL! They rawked, incidentally.
Nine: Friends. We drove 4 hours from home and ran into several friends. Many hugs were shared and, of course, Frisbee. It really was a Friend Fest! (Cheesy, I know).
And last, but not least, the music. We went Friday to see some of our favorites: Carrollton, Rhett Walker Band, For King and Country, Big Daddy Weave, Building 429 and Matthew West. If we had gone Saturday, we would have enjoyed OBB, Hyland, Moriah Peters, Finding Favour, Chris August, Kari Jobe, Jamie Grace, the Peter Furler Band and TobyMac. We opted for some R&R with the kiddos at the campground. That aside, the weekend held a high-caliber line-up that did not disappoint. I CANNOT wait to hear next year’s line-up!!!
(What? No pics from the bands?! That’s another post….;) )
Have you been to a music festival that was as family/pocketbook-friendly as this one? Let us all know!
What’s not shared is lost,
One thing that is consistent in this blog is its randomness. We now jump from spiritual truths that convict me to our trip to Spring Creek, Pennsylvania. We left Friday to meet up with friends in Springfield, Ohio then caravaned (is that a word?) to Miracle Mountain Ranch for our 3rd Family Camp. I just wanted to share a few pics before I crash ‘n’ burn.
First, we have the seating chart. This is necessary as personalities and small-fry needs all have to be taken into consideration for a 7-9 hour road trip. We have a regular seating arrangement for every day (which changes as the kids grow…and new kids are added….) but a long trip becomes even longer if we don’t think this through!
OH, how I wish we could have decked out the Great White Beast to look like our guys’ dream van. (I later noticed our seating chart had items added to the empty seats like “Ammo.”)
Isaiah, the 5 y.o., asked every day, “How many more days til we leave?” So, Nat put this little countdown on our wipe-off board. X marks the spot and the arrow showed him how close we were getting. He took me to the board each day to inform me of “how many more days.” We learned a long time ago, anticipation is part of the adventure! Play it up!
This is our catering trailer. Guess what it used to be used for. Three guesses, first two don’t count. The plan is to paint it some day with our logo, etc. Natalie said we should just change our name to “Harley Davidson Catering” because the trailer is so cool.
Do-over – some people like to ham it up.
Lunchtime! Does anybody else remember how nasty and rundown rest areas used to be? We’re talking outhouse smells. Most are so nice, now! Anyhoo, our three families took over this picnic area.
And does anyone else just chuck sanitation standards out the door when having a picnic? Clean the table first? Why? No need – it’s a picnic. Wash hands? What? And ruin the experience? I think there’s a chance I have a slight case of germaphobia. I once thought I had O.C.D. but I actually have C.D.O because O.C.D. isn’t in alphabetical order.
SO, this only brings us to lunchtime on Friday. I will stop here and leave you wondering, “What did they eat for dinner? Did they get to the ranch before sundown? Did they, in a 15-passenger van hauling a trailer, pass a Black 2012 Ferrari ? No pics were taken so I’ll just answer that – yes…yes, we did. As did our friends, also driving a 15-passenger. (We’re pretty sure the driver of said Ferrari was shamed and decided to speed up and pass us. Ferraris should never be driven in the right lane. Just sayin’.)
I’ll try to get back with more of Fecher Family Adventures after this “short” break for sleeping, eating, laundry, phone calling, menu-planning, lesson-planning, finishing unpacking, etc.
What’s not shared is lost,
Day 1 provided adventure enough but Friday brought more as well as the first wave of friends to hook up with. The pre-cruise anticipation was heightened by having Gomers arrive to meet up with.
|Free photo slideshow made with Smilebox|
This has A LOT of pics, I know. I’ll try to do the others in smaller bites. There was just too much fun going on!
What’s not shared is lost,
Several folks had asked for close up shots and pics of us making this cake via Facebook and Twitter so that’s why I’m taking the time to journal the making of said cake with more detail than I usually would. It was an especially fun cake to do so I don’t mind a bit. Having several family members contribute to the creation of this edible work of art makes the memory worth keeping so I’m happy to “scrapbook” this here. I have a lot of pics so I’m not going to try to put it all in one post – you have stuff to do and other blogs to read.
First of all, we had to make Cake Pops for some Gomers who have heard about them and have seen our photos of them. We also like to take some for Lott, the tour manager, as he seems to like them quite a bit. If he’s just faking it for our sake, he’s doing a good job. We’ve learned that the band doesn’t usually get the treats folks bring them (bummer since that’s one of our “love languages!”) but Lott acts like he’s going to steal them when we bring them. SO, we gave him his own and the band got stuck with cake.
FINISHING THE CAKE BEFORE TRANSPORTING
I forgot to include the cake board when I started this. One of our signature elements: folks get a kick out of serving out cake to discover a message or picture hiding beneath. I was hoping to use the Come Together symbol with a photo but ran into technical difficulties and didn’t have time to make it happen.
Back to the drum: Before I took a good look at what instruments we’d be putting on the cake, I purchased Opalescent spray for that “sparkly drum” look. THEN, I asked for help from Gomers for good pics and did my homework. The realization that David Carr’s Craviotto Drums are wood grain left me wondering what the heck I was going to make sparkly cuz I was bound and determined to use my spray paint! Darn.
I went to work on the last of the hardware attaching pieces with Piping Gel. Jillian and the small fries had already made the smaller pieces so it was a “simple” matter of assembly and painting. Cakes can be so….stupid. Sometimes, I swear they’re living, breathing, evil creatures just waiting for us humans to try to shape them into something fabulous but they decide to be “in control” and rebel against their maker!!! Okay, I’ll calm down. Enough of that…stupid cake.
I made a couple of shades of vodka paint with brown icing color for the wood grain. Icing color tends to deepen or darken as it dries so I kept working with the colors trying to get them to match David’s drums expecting the paint to act like icing. It doesn’t work the same, I found. I made a vodka paint with luster dust and used that Opalescent spray for the hardware. I tried the sliver metallic spray and was not happy with the results. I’ve used the gold before and that looks great but the silver looked blue. Luster dust for silver. Write that down.
This was where we stopped on the cake on Wednesday, May 16. We loaded the layers in a Cambro carrier with he exception of the 14″ bottom layer which didn’t fit so it was placed on top of the carrier. Each layer was placed on a piece of foam covered with a “grip mat” and the cakes survived the trip with minimal damage. Some pieces slid out of place but I was thrilled that we drove a cake from Indiana to North Carolina and they made it! Our first long-distance delivery. Yay!
Thanks for taking a gander!
What’s not shared is lost,
Everybody showed up for church today. It was a packed house and it was so nice that the weather allowed us to open windows to welcome the breeze and rain cooled the air. When that many peeps pack a house, it can get mighty warm mighty fast. But today was pleasant and folks hung out later than usual. The small fries were able to run amuck outside and the older set played Ultimate Frisbee and some basketball. The dessert table included Pumpkin Rolls, Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream, and we made Pumpkin Crunch. The singing is always great and, though I’m dead tired and kept trying to fall asleep, there was a teaching time that was anointed. I was also blessed simply by the conversation shared among sisters. Very convicting. I was reminded of how a wife has the power to turn a perfectly decent husband into a monster, a lame husband into a worse one, or a monster into a perfectly decent husband. That’s another blog post.
Today’s biggest focus, besides Christ, of course, was the imminent departure of our friends from South Africa. Walter, Elaine, Janna, Nadia, and little François. They have spent the past year with us as dear friends and members of our church. For most of the past year, Lenae took Autumn and Isabelle to the our friends’ home each Monday to give a ballet lesson to help them learn English, have friends their own age and, of course, learn ballet basics. Lenae used what she has learned from working at Dance Techniques and it was fun to watch her put together lesson plans for them and talk about how each lesson went. There were days they stayed longer so the girls could play. The friendships made between the girls and the bond that Lenae developed with Elaine were precious to watch. We’re already talking about sending Lenae to visit in South Africa after we can save up enough money.
It’s been fun learning about the differences as well as similarities in our cultures. What’s been especially enjoyable has been sharing the love of cooking with Elaine. She’s a fabulous cook and always goes over the top. We’re likeminded in the importance of presentation and experimenting. When we asked her what her likes and dislikes of American cuisine are, she said she likes it all. If she weren’t moving back, we would put her to work at our shop. She said if she were staying, she would love to. Man, I wish we had opened earlier!
Elaine and I also like to laugh. We enjoy good humor and good jokes. Her joy is contagious and I’m going to miss having that around. If laughter is good medicine, I’m a healthier person because of Elaine. As it usually goes, I regret I didn’t take the time to get to know her better earlier in the year.
So, this week, our friends will be heading back home on an 18 hour flight with little kids (pray for them!) and they have so many mixed emotions. They’ve missed their family and friends and country but will miss being here. My emotions aren’t mixed at all. I’ve already had the tears fall a few times the past week (and tonight) and I would love it if all of their family just moved here. But, since that can’t happen, we’re already having serious discussions about saving for a trip to South Africa, preferably around New Year’s because they have this way-awesome international fireworks competition at Cape Town! Who knew? Until then, thank God for internet. I’m gonna have to learn to use Skype.
Play With Your Food!
1.This is your captain speaking. I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but if the child out on the starboard wing belongs to anyone, would you please alert the flight attendant?
2.I’m sorry sir but you have one more child than you have tickets for.
3.Boy, Dad, you sure made a loud noise in the bathroom…and what is that smell?
4.Dad, wasn’t there an engine attached to the wing when we took off?
5.Psst, Dad, this big fat lady next to me is squishing me.
6.I know I just went, but I gotta go again.
7.How much longer?
8.How much longer?
9.How much longer?
10. Honey, you take care of the kids and wake me when the plane lands.
and a bonus:
“This is your captain speaking. I have some bad news. We have lost all navigational & communication devices and and we have no idea where we are. We are almost out of fuel and the engines are failing one by one.But I have good news…we are making excellent time.”