Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pickathon 2011 in Happy Valley, Oregon

I was lucky enough to be able to attend two days of the Pickathon Music Festival earlier this month.  It is held on a large farm in Happy Valley, Oregon.  Three days, five stages, great setting, great music, mostly outdoors, folk, blues, soul, bluegrass, and more.  Family-friendly.  Eco-friendly.  Good times.  The Woodlands Stage was my favorite stage area, it was very cool to listen to music in a forest setting like this.

part the audience at the Woodlands Stage

They had lots of food vendors, including this vendor making off the grid smoothies with a foot powered blender.

There were two smaller inside stages, including the Workshop Barn above.  A lot of the bands performed more than once, playing at a different stage each time.

The main stage area had these really cool canopies flying high overhead that provided intermittent shade with the passing sun.  At nightfall, the color effects would get turned on and really make some amazing colors on the overhead canopies.

A lot of people camp at the festival, some come for the day, and some like me shuttled back and forth to nearby motels.  Best experience would certainly be to camp on the farm, especially since performance run all day and well past midnight.

A group of traffic control volunteers gather to handle a "traffic jam"

Horses running through one of the camping areas

One of the two drinking water trucks -- lots of faucets along the side of the truck as well as the extension pipe at the back.  Pickathon tries very hard to be very Eco-friendly for a large outdoor music festival.  The don't allow anyone to sell disposable water bottles, rather you bring your own water bottle with you and refill it as necessary for free at one of the water trucks. 

For food, you have the choice of bringing your own plate and utensils, and washing them yourself OR you can buy a token for $10.  With the token method, when you buy food from a vendor, you give the vendor your token and they put your food in a reusable plate/bowl/container and give you a reusable utensil.  Once you've eaten, you visit one of the recycling areas, and then turn in your dirty plate/bowl/container/utensil and they give you a token back for your next use.  At the end of the festival you can keep your reusable plate/utensil, or turn the token back in for a $5 refund.   Worked great!

A night view looking toward the main stage with lit canopies above the crowd.  All in all a great event with no hassles other than an unreliable/unpredictable shuttle from my motel (Day's Inn).  Next time I'll hopefully have time to camp and if not, then come up with a foolproof shuttle option that can handle late night runs so as to enjoy the late night sets.  I thought the organizers did a great job, and the attendees were clearly a nice set of folks too -- didn't see any significant issues for such a large event.

Here's my full set of Pickathon pictures over on Flickr if you want to see more (press slideshow).


  1. im thinking of staying at days inn was transportation to and fronm really that bad?

  2. @anonymous -- I'm sorry I missed your comment earlier. I really wasn't impressed by this Days Inn (I've stayed at a number of other Days Inns in the country that I have liked). My room literally had nowhere to hang clothes and no coat hangers (which makes sense given no place to hang them). But the big disappointment was the lack of reliability of their stated shuttle times. On one departure window from the motel nobody showed and when several of us questioned when we could go, we were asked "can you wait another hour?" -- that means missing sets. On pickup, even more unpredictable. After waiting 45 minutes past their stated pickup time at the event, called them and they said someone would be there at the next pickup time. I finally asked one of the other more reliable motel shuttles if I could by chance catch a ride with them, they said yes and dropped me in my parking lot (I saw other people using other shuttles like this as well). Having to leave earlier than you would like because you don't have confidence in the shuttle, also means missing sets. Personally, if I get to go to another Pickathon, I'll stay elsewhere. Your mileage may vary, of course. Best wishes!


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