The Nelsonville Music Festival brings familiar sense of community to a new location after two-year hiatus< < Back to
NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WOUB) — After a few years on hiatus the Nelsonville Music Festival returned Friday with the same relaxed and family-friendly spirit that has made it a favorite local fixture year after year.
The event’s move to the Snow Fork Center (5685 Happy Hollow Road) marks a new chapter for the locally and nationally acclaimed weekend-long affair. Formerly an underdeveloped golf course, the center provides enough room for various stages for the performances, a string of locally sourced food and drink pop-ups, in addition to the tents of the independent craft vendors and the essential campgrounds.
While the scent of cedar wood lingered over the many man-made walkways across the grassy expanse, the atmosphere of the occasion is also shaped by the dozens of charming decorations provided by Passion Works. Hand-painted ties dangled from the trees along with brightly colored creature sculptures that capture the DIY and environmentally conscious nature that is distinctive to the Athens area.
The spacious location is very fitting for the laidback crowds that frequent the festival. A kid-focused play area sits near one stage as a hot spot for younger families while people of all ages proliferate the scattered picnic tables near Vendor Village or lay down blankets on the wide hillside of the main Snow Fork Stage to watch one of over 40 bands. It really is special when you can jam out to a band next to a baby in a bonnet sitting on its mom’s shoulders amidst a crowd of fresh-faced students and seasoned Appalachian festival-goers.
Attendees are also drawn to the event for its robust list of popular and regionally respected musicians across a wide array of genres, including synth-gaze, Americana, indie rock, folk and so much more.
The fondness for Nelsonville Music Festival is present amongst numerous performers for the weekend who played for the event many moons ago. Ohio-based groups like no stars share the space with critical favorite acts like Friday night’s headlining band Japanese Breakfast.
One of the memorable performances of Friday was from the Cincinnati-founded band LUNG. Festival-goers lounged across the soft hill of a knoll at the Porch Stage as the two members of the group wowed the enraptured crowd. Guests began to flock into the space once their tense and beautiful songs filtered through the woods across the grounds.
The band’s sound crosses many styles and could be better described by feelings rather than genres. Metal and classical music may not seem like a natural pairing, but singer Kate Wakefield’s haunting and professionally trained operatic voice floats above her fervent cello playing alongside Daisy Caplan’s intense and hypnotic drumming.
As the daylight began to retreat, twinkling lights that are strewn across the forest and fauna transform the place into something magical as the music continues into the night. The team behind the scenes from Stuart’s Opera House and the many affiliated organizations can breathe a sigh of relief as they close day one of the festival on a high note. The people came, the bands played, and life finds a way to take a little time to finally sit and enjoy the music.