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Sunflower Alley 2019 at Lee’s Park- Saratoga, NY

sunflower alley 2019

Each year Island Girl says, “I’m done.” This year, we built a professional-looking website and the concern was that ticket sales were low leading into the September weekend. Just as it has each year, things worked out perfectly. More bands, more activities, perfect weather, great food, and tons of fun. 

I proved to be the median age for our campsite. Some newly in their thirties, some reminiscing about 1980s dead tour. We chatted about camping, this was new to some. We chatted about how to comfortably camp in our older bodies. Throughout the weekend, we took care of each other with time, noise, and space. Next to us was the growing family lead by E and her menagerie of offspring including the newest addition at less than a year old. 

Friday started with Ish, a cover band that played well into the night. It was a perfect soundtrack to relaxing by the fire. Saturday featured the local School of Rock whom I had suggested we invite. After a year of trying, we managed to get them and they did not disappoint. They were terrific, they were passionate, they were deliberate, and they could play. The crowd was genuinely appreciative of their efforts and they agreed to stay later into the evening. We feasted together and enjoyed The Wheel playing Grateful Dead covers. 

The night wore on and became a drum circle by the fire. Some had never played, others were pro. It sounded surprisingly good (I’m a drum circle snob) and I genuinely had a good time helping some newbies learn some basic rhythms. 

Amongst the music, we enjoyed vendors, tie-dying, and an open mic during the day. One man brought a full table worth of live music left by his friend who had recently died. It was a sad reminder that addiction is no joke. One day your stuff will end up on a folding table at a campground free for anyone that asks. I managed to get a DVD of The Closing of Winterland. A terrific Dead show and great recording. 

Sunflower Alley is growing through the tireless efforts of Island Girl and her co-founder (and chef for Saturday) Sean. The effort, stress, and difficulties that come with throwing a private music fest are paid off as soon as the first cars arrive. She was crying when School of Rock came on. She was so happy, so amazed, and so proud. Not just because they were amazing, but because she had built something fantastic; a safe place for music fans to appreciate the next generation and all their hard work.

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