But I have to back up a little.
For a year, I worked to help my little hometown become an Appalachian Trail Community. What does that mean? It means a formal commitment by a community to advocate for preservation of Appalachian Trail lands. More than that, it means a commitment by a community to protect its natural resources, one of them being the Appalachian Trail. For the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to designate a town like ours as an AT Community, we needed to show that commitment through action. For us that meant creating and running an ongoing series of community hikes. It meant establishing a Screen-Free Week that encourages children (and their parents) to get away from electronics and spend more time outdoors. It meant hosting an annual AT Art Show, where people could see the beauty of our mountains as interpreted by some of their talented neighbors. And more.
Be careful what you suggest, especially if you really want it. It wasn't long before what-if-we-hosted-a-festival turned into months of obsessively working to make that festival happen. It's been frustrating sometimes, for certain. I've learned I'm not a natural leader; I don't inspire a lot of people to jump in and get involved. I've also learned I have to be willing to be uncomfortable if I'm going to move into new territory. (Begging for money didn't come easily, for example.)
The work has already been worth it. We have partner organizations geared up to talk to the public about their environmental work. We have great bands ready to take the stage. We have speakers prepared to share their hiking experiences. We have food and drinks lined up. (Beer, anyone? Did I mention a farm brewery offered to host this whole shindig?) And, as word has spread, we have sponsors lining up to help pay for the tent rentals and T-shirts and bands and all the rest.
Join us, if you can on 15 June 2019. Rain or shine, we'll be the ones listening to Old-Time harmonies, eating BBQ, planning a hike with a neighbor, signing up to join the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, testing out camping gear—and celebrating just how lucky we are to have wild, wonderful places like the Appalachian Trail.