Wednesday, Sept. 14. Finally the big day arrives. I get out out of Richmond around 2pm and make good time getting to Rock Camp. Once I arrive in town, however, things get a little tricky. I found no shortage of Residents, well informed on the matter of Pink Moon, and eager to supply directions. Unfortunately, I find little consensus on where the festival will actually be held this year.
For the last six years Pink Moon has been a September destination of some distinction among East Coast lovers of family sized festies. It’s important to note, however, that until now the event was held on Pinky’s Farm, in celebration and remembrance of Festival Organizer Seth Abramson’s late mother Pinky Testerman, hence the appellation Pink Moon. Unfortunately, due to land dispute issues beyond the control of the Pink Moon Family, the festival was unable to resume operation this season on the original site. The future of Pink Moon looked uncertain until a concerned citizen and previous years attendee, Rick Riffe, stepped in and offered the fledgling festie a new home at nearby Flint Rock Hollow Farm. In addition to providing a space to set up camp, a caring contingent of hard working locals rolled up their sleeves and did everything under the sun to make the experience one none would soon forget. From hauling campers up and down the formidable slopes, to hauling thrash around the clock to make this the cleanest festival I have ever attended, we owe much respect and love to our good friends in Rock Camp, WV.
But first I had to find it. The sunset promptly approached as I tooled through the back roads and gaps of Monroe County. When it finally rested on the horizon, I was on Back Hollow Road, a single lane partially paved secondary road with as many deer as trees. The sun shone through from the west and across the road horizontally illuminating every leaf with a brilliant orange glow. For a moment it felt as though I was riding through an Appalachian wild fire with only my good intentions and the spirit of Pink Moon to protect me. In truth, the new venue is not hard to find, but a word of caution, do it the old fashioned way. An excellent set of step by step directions is provided on the event page and website. Take my advice and a few moments of your time to jot these down and you’ll be glad you did.
After about an hour or so of driving every road in Rock Camp but Pete Amos, I finally get some solid directions at Riffe’s One-Stop. Five minutes later I arrive, conveniently, at the same time as my partners in press, Chanelle Vigue and Melody Lindsay. It ‘s dark and I’m not able to get a concise impression of the topography of the site but one thing is certain, it is steep. Driving through the front gate, your twelve o’clock view is nothing but gravel road rising 50 or 60 feet at about 45 degrees of inclination. To the immediate left is base camp. This is where you will find Seth and his wife Jessica Abramson in their pull-behind camper, nestled beside a small electric green pond, typically surrounded by Camp Counselors and Volunteers engaged in a flurry of activity. If you have not met Jess, as I had not previously done, allow me to take a moment to give you a brief description. If you were to meet her in full swing, as did I, you would likely notice that above all, Jess is a multi-tasker. From the time I arrived it was rare to find her holding less than two conversations at once. Far from being frazzled, Jess seems to rally under the pressure. She is thin and not especially tall, and appears to be much younger than probably she is, but do not be fooled. As sweet as she is (and she is genuinely one of the sweetest and most caring individuals I will meet all weekend, which says a lot when considering current company) she is equally fierce. She meets challenges with confidence and vigor and none of this would be possible without her contributions.
After taking some time to get acquainted with members of staff, Chanelle, Mel, and myself make the trek uphill to set up camp. My first of many walks up the hill, and my first embrace with Flint Rock Hollow Farm; it is the beginning of a love/hate relationship. As I mentioned, the first 100 or so feet is a steep incline of gravel road and dirt trail. To the left is a steep downhill drop to the pond and to the right is sparse pine forest. As you reach the halfway point of the climb, the trees abruptly clear and the main stage comes into view for the first time. Positioned along the treeline, the Shangri-la Stage (SLS) faces up a wide grassy lawn that is itself concave, creating a perfect natural amphitheater. Continuing on the path, with the Main Stage to your right, the terrain begins to level and the second stage sound booth comes into view. This faces immediately left in the direction of the Old House Stage (OHS). Returning Campers will know it from Pinky’s Farm as the Farm House Stage, which was essentially cut in half down the middle and reassembled on the new site. Directly behind this stage another 100 feet or more, and up the steepest hill yet, is the Loco Pickle Stage (LPS). Directly in front of the OHS (a hard right when you reach the top of the main trail) is a shallow saddle along which you will find a modest Shakedown St. complete with craft and food vending, and the general store. Continuing to the right along Shakedown St. the elevation begins to rise once again as you walk up into GA and eventually VIP camping. As a GA camper, it was your responsibility to complete this hike with your gear from the parking lot, as many times as it took, to reach your campsite. This trip was frequently, and mercifully, cut short thanks to volunteers like Jerry and Bob (neighbors and friends of the fest who hauled campers in the back of their trucks when not full of band equipment or trash) and staffer’s like Céire and Jake (members of the golf cart equipped elite). Plans have already been initiated to incorporate shuttle options for campers making the trek next year.
The Stage is set and the air is alight with anticipation. With visions of the sugar plum fairy’s who will soon be dancing through the fields below vivid in my imagination, I settle in early for a good night’s rest, confident in the knowledge that it will be the last one I see for many days.