This is a piece about Fest Fashions from your intrepid Folk Reporter, Leif Norman. In front of me there is a bent tent peg on the picnic table next to a broken off cup handle. Over there, Matt is wearing a Fez and sunglasses with Googly Eyes on them, and Dr. Beard from KVSC FM radio in St Cloud is rocking a sweet vintage store find; a pink paisley housecoat, because hey, why the heck not? DJ’s are expected to dress like that, right? And Folk Festies too. It’s not all tie dye and patchouli. It’s tattoos and dreadlocks, sun burns and straw hats, big beards and skinny jeans, Utili-kilts and army boots, three piece suits and the same black T shirt and suspenders Mitch Podolak has been wearing for twenty years, bikini tops and short shorts; I even saw a kid in the family area without any clothes on at all.
About twenty years ago all the Volunteer Shirts used to have different solid colours for each crew, and then they changed to white with crew names on the back, and so some enterprising people, like Rosmarie and Ann got an idea to start tie dying and cutting them up, because people want to be different, and hey, why the heck not? So began a tradition of shirt mods. In the early days they were just hacked and slashed and then the style changed to a more considered and decorative form, with beads and knitted inlays, fabric appliqué, mod podge, and bias cuts. Sera at the Site Office, who has a fashion background, explained all this to me.
Volunteer shirts are a point of pride; not just modifying them, but showing off past years models from 2003, 1995 and 1984, because heck, I was there too.
One of the ultimate expressions of style has to be a tattoo. It’s permanent, it’s painful, and Kent has a Folk Fest Banjo Symbol in ink on his back. Like the design from the classic posters in the 80‘s. He used to be a metal head, but his high school sweetheart, and now wife, introduced him to the Fest and his dedication became resolute. He’s sold. He spread his arms wide to present his shirtless and baggy panted self. “This is me now!” But if Pantera or Iron Maiden were to play the Folk Fest he probably wouldn’t be so upset. (Actually I’m not sure what bands he used to like because I didn’t ask. Voivod maybe? Slipknot!)
After each winter, full of planning and incubating and hoping the sun will return, the Folk Faeries and their Folk Fashions will spring forth and run amok. Out here at Birds Hill all the bent tent pegs are just as useful as the straight ones, and people can let their freak flag fly, free from the concrete jungle vines, and wear that vintage shirt one more time. When you’re dancing next to main stage you need to wear something that isn’t restrictive.