Camping at the Mt. Airy Festival

Shows our Cricket set up in camp at the Mt Airy festival.

We attended the Mt. Airy Fiddler’s Convention for the second year in a row. This time we had the Cricket as our secret weapon. Instead of sleeping on the muddy ground in constant heavy rain, we had comfortable beds, a great kitchen area, outside covered seating, and a secure place to stash our instruments while keeping them cooler than inside the truck.

The photo above shows our new REI 12.5×12.5 foot square tarp, and next to it, a large pop up shelter that a friend brought. Together we had a huge covered area for music and shared meals. The REI tarp works a lot better than the stock TAXA tarp that came with the Cricket. It has more coverage, doesn’t sag and collect water, and handles bad weather well. Plus it has much less of a gap between the tarp and the camper. There is still a little bit of water that runs down the side and over the big window, but it doesn’t get everything under the tarp wet. Plus the REI tarp was about $70. Attached it using small carabiners, one on the back tarp attachment point, and the other on the far end of the handle in the center of the roof. It’s tight enough without putting a lot of stress on it.

I’m still learning how to choose a good site. We got there on Thursday morning, and all the shaded sites had been occupied for days. But the large open field was flat and grassy, and had plenty of good sites left. My biggest mistake was moving the truck over to a parking spot along the road. This allowed another group to pitch their tent/tarp right up against our camper (really, it was touching in one spot), where they proceeded to talk and sing loudly until after 3am, and — much worse — smoke incessantly. The noise wasn’t that big a deal — it’s a festival, after all. But the smoke was pouring through our camper while we slept. Next time I will park the truck on that side of the camper and make sure I have blocked out areas around it.

Cricket in camp.

Here’s another view of the tarp over the Cricket. I have two tall adjustable tent poles, one on each corner, and I made the front corner much higher so water can run down off the back. I guyed out each pole in two directions so I could control the tension both ways.

We had the water pump replaced, so we drove up with a mostly full fresh water tank. We were able to clean dishes, and ourselves, brush teeth, etc., without leaving the camper. Worked well.

Playing music in camp.

The point of the festival is to jam with your friends, of course, and we spent most of our time doing just that. So I don’t have many photos from this adventure. The cool thing about old time music is the community of folks who play it. We play with people in their teens and in their 70s and all in between. People from all over the region and the country. It’s a relaxing atmosphere and the music is excellent.

Fiddling Around in the Cricket

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On the first weekend in May we took our Cricket to its first music festival, the Piedmont One Mic Acoustic Convention (POMAC) in Franklinville, NC. This is the second year of the festival, which celebrates acoustic music of all kinds, including Old Time, bluegrass, Piedmont blues, and mill music. POMAC is organized by some friends in the Piedmont Old Time Society, and it’s still a small and accessible festival for musicians and fans.

The festival is in a tiny town park along the Deep River. There is a wide grass flood plain where we were able to camp, with a grassy road running one way through the long, skinny park for access. The camping area was about five or six feet below the level of the road, and we had some concerns about getting the camper out after all the rain, but these proved unfounded.

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We got there Friday after work and set up camp. I chose the site based on easy access, being able to swing around next to the river like a pull-through site, rather than trying to back down the hill. It’s not a great choice in other ways, though, since it gets no shade during the day. After a quick dinner and a walk around the park, we found our friends and played music until all hours.

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On Saturday morning we explored the park. There is a bridge across the river to a trail system, and we hiked to Faith Rock, a large rock outcrop with an interesting history and a great view. In the afternoon we entered the fiddle contest, and played with our friend Bob in the band contest. A good time was had by all.

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With the water pump not working, we didn’t have water for washing up and personal hygiene. This has never been an issue before, but we’ve generally camped in places with bath houses. So we learned that having a functional internal water system is a great feature when boondocking. Other than that one issue, the Cricket handled well. Since one of the primary reasons we wanted a trailer was for music festivals and fiddler’s conventions, this was a great experience. Just what we wanted.

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Next up: The Mt. Airy Blue Grass & Old-Time Fiddlers Convention.