We have to be there.
As soon as I heard the line up, I told my husband. We have to be there. So many of our favorite bands. Bands that have brightened our days, changed our lives, fed our souls. All in one place on the same day. At a venue that allows kids. WE HAVE TO BE THERE!
The wheels of my reggae soaked brain started turning. We bought tickets. We booked a hotel. We added a stop off in our favorite beach town to the itinerary. We took the kids out of school. We had to be there.
We drove ten hours in the minivan with our 3, 6 and 9 year old kids. My dad came along for the ride too. We arrived at our hotel in Wilmington, NC on Friday evening. We met up with other fans who had traveled from PA and my sister and brother-in-law who drove from Charlotte, NC. We headed to bed tired, but so excited for the music the next day. We were going to be there!!!
We arrived at Battleship Park the day of the event and walked into reggae heaven. There were two stages alternating one phenomenal band after another. We were there!
We set up camp in a shady spot behind the pavilion near the main stage. The kids had plenty of space to run and dance. We were able to leave our wagon and blankets at our spot while we moved to the other stage for alternating sets.
Our friends had a spot near the other stage where they let us hang during those sets. These friends let our kids climb all over them and kindly put up with their crazy antics. In fact, our kids saw lots of kindness at this event. Reggae fans are like that. There was the girl who made the (insanely) long bathroom line with my 9 year old (who has special needs) a pleasant experience. There was the guy who found a shorter bathroom line and came back to tell my son and I about it and offer to take us there. There was even a security guard who kept my son engaged while we waited.
There were the guys from Fear Nuttin Band who indulged us with family photos with the band and the guys from Natty Vibes who gave their Artist tags to my boys. There were my sister and brother-in-law who watched our kids so my husband and I could get up close to the stage to see Fear Nuttin Band perform some of our favorite songs. There was kindness all over this event. That is why we had to be there.
There was an effort to make the event environmentally friendly. We could teach our kids about conservation as they filled their reusable water bottles. There were many people drinking from their reusable stainless steel pints to cut down on plastic waste. We were with other people who care about the planet and each other. It was important to be there.
There was no re-entry, which was tough because there weren’t enough food options or enough bathrooms. There were isolated fights and people who had a little too much fun. Overall though, this was a laid back, peaceful, spiritual event. We loved being there.
Moving between the stages, experiencing one mind blowing performance after another, I breathed in that day. My children hearing their favorite Nahko song live, dancing with my husband to Fear Nuttin Band, my 3 year old being sung to sleep by the Movement, , hearing Dirty Heads live for the first time, watching the joy my 6 year old felt in meeting another child who is named after Bob Marley, the recognition that came across my 9 year old’s face when he saw SOJA live for the first time, experiencing the music I love with my children, my husband, my sister and brother-in-law, my dad and with friends who are only friends because reggae brought us together. These are the moments I will remember because we were there.
Reggae keeps adding good things to our lives. We keep following the music and it keeps bringing us to beautiful places. California Roots the Carolina Sessions was an epic event. We had to be there.
We were so there.