Rabbi Yonah’s article originally appeared on Huffpost
An amazing music and camping festival can not only transform those who have the merit to be there, but the entire world we live in.
I’ve been dancing at music festivals around the world for more than 25 years, but my soul yearns each summer for the High Sierra Music Festival. This family-owned festival consistently delivers one of the greatest festival experiences anywhere in the world.
I don’t hold back in expressing my admiration for High Sierra and its creators. When I extol the festival’s virtues, people think that I am making it up.
They ask, “How can one festival consistently provide so much healthy joy, inspiration, music, ambiance, and good food and good vibes?” It’s a great question and I will humbly try to explain.
Let’s begin with this fact: High Sierra’s producers are festival experts who have been doing this for 27 years. There is no substitute for experience. They are laid-back, but well organized. They have created a big enough festival where you feel the transcendence of humanity, but not overwhelming so you loose your sanity.
It’s super creative. The Festival provides many opportunities for expression and celebration for people of all backgrounds. There’s even a daily parade which wraps around the festival with mesmerizing drumming, dancing and larger than life puppets.
It’s cool for families. You don’t have to give up on being a festival goer now that you have kids. Just grab some good ear protection for the little ones, and you can bring them along. They even have play groups. At High Sierra, creative children’s programs coexist in the same festival with sophisticated musical collaborations. So very cool.
It’s non-stop. High Sierra is also renowned for being a non-stop, 24 hour-a-day festival where curated shows and programs run all day and all night, with few breaks. Some late night shows offer rare performances and jams that are found nowhere else. (As one of my musician friends said, “High Sierra is a musician’s music festival, where the great musicians come to enjoy themselves. And we all benefit.”)
It’s clean. As High Sierra Music Festival is located at the Plumas County Fairgrounds, you have access to an air-conditioned building if you ever get too hot, real bathrooms and showers. The paths are all paved and well taken-care of.
It’s a village. The integration of the many stages and performance spaces in a small area is remarkable. Additionally, many of the festival goers camp or RV inside the festival — something that doesn’t happen at any other major festival — the festival feels like its own village.
And High Sierra has mastered the art of the perfect line-up. In my humble opinion, what makes a music festival line-up memorable is not just one band or another, it is the overall impact of the selection of music on your soul.
As we start packing this weekend to prepare for our pilgrimage to High Sierra, which starts June 29th in Quincy, CA, my heart is already pounding faster, and my smile is brighter. I’m sure that I have left out some elements that are sacred to some of the regulars (sunrise kickball?) and I didn’t event tell you about who is playing this year – it’s a brilliant line-up as usual.
I’m a big believer in the power of music festivals to make the world a better place. The power of music and community to elevate our souls, enables us to build a more compassionate society. You can’t get that in a class or in a book – you have to experience this.
You can visit Rabbi Yonah this year at High Sierra Music Festival at Shabbat Tent, a hospitality tent located on the festival grounds.