River friends

Monday morning was rough but I’m not complaining. Three days of Riverfest Elora was exactly what I needed to find that essential piece of myself that got buried during the pandemic. 

Somewhere in the joy of the crowd, immersed in the amazing live music, I recovered that part of myself that longed for community. There it was, waiting for me in the same spot as I’d left it three summers ago, just exactly as I remembered it. Connection. 

Some much-needed healing took place as I wandered around the grounds of Bissell Park, seeing faces I’ve not seen in years, connecting to friends old and new. Moving through the grounds listening to a diverse line-up of music, watching strangers experience the relaxed, inclusive vibe, we all became what is known at this festival as River Friends. 

My volunteer gig at Riverfest wasn’t glamourous, but I didn’t care. My daughter, the Carpenter and I cleaned the grounds in the early morning hours each day before the park opened. We sure didn’t smell good after that task. 

Yet, we all agreed it was an important job and, honestly, it was rewarding. Whenever I found myself getting frustrated, I would remember the privilege of getting free passes for the weekend. 

More importantly, we took pride in cleaning the park before welcoming everyone in. This is our home. It makes this festival more personal for us to roll up our sleeves and get involved. 

Seeing the Rheostatics, Planet Smashers, The Glorious Sons and the Strumbellas, (to name a few), was absolutely worth the stench of cleaning up beer cans. Totally worth it.

It struck me that so many of the volunteers around us this weekend were friends we made back when my kids attended the Elora Cooperative Preschool. I’d known these people since our children were toddlers. That’s how far back we go.

Other volunteers were high school teachers who had a positive impact on my kids in the critical years, or people who coached my son in sports or were parents of some of my daughter’s earliest friendships. 

And then there were those faces I’ve known so long I don’t remember the beginning of our friendship, but it sure was nice to exchange a smile and wave to one another across the sea of people.

These are the good people that invest in their community to make a positive difference. It was easy for me to forget they existed in recent years when the negative minority seemed louder. I’m grateful for the reminder good people are close to home. 

Riverfest Elora is the Carpenter’s pinnacle volunteer event. The guy who is anonymous most of the time puts heart and soul into this event in ways most people don’t see. I respect his dedication, as do his River Friends. Proud of him. 

And my son’s volunteer photography work was an amazing experience. College paid off. 

Monday my body reminded me my aging knees cannot handle the Planet Smashers or rocking out to the Glorious Sons without a lot of acetaminophen. 

Whatever. Worth it. Rock on River Friends. See you next year.

WriteOut of Her Mind