In Upstate NY there is a little known music festival that has been going strong for 37 years: Rye Bread. The festival started out by invitation only and remains small and intimate to this day. It attracts about 300 people and many of the concert goers have been attending year after year. The beauty of this festival as opposed to larger ones, such as Bisco, is that the crowd is smaller, it costs only $20 and it is very welcoming to families and pets. Bad behavior is not tolerated and not only will you be asked to leave but, the person who invited you will also be banned – so I hear. Over the weekend I did not witness any bad behavior on anyone’s part. This festival is not designed to make money and is very much like a mini Woodstock of peace, love and music. Even the bands play for free.
As a hiker, there is a phenomenon called “trail magic,” where everyone treats one another on the trail as an old friend and is willing to share food, water, directions and stories. That same relaxed magic is immediately evident at Rye Bread. You can be walking by someone’s camp and they will invite you in for food or a drink and you will be treated as if they had known you for years. This was my first time at Rye Bread and I immediately felt at home with everyone I encountered.