Can you believe it? Wild Goose 2016 is almost here. With so much to see and hear and do we thought you might like a few suggestions from experienced Goose-goers on how to enjoy yourself as much as possible.
Tip #1: Make a plan. Now, before you arrive. The schedule is online, so you could start this very moment. The good news is there are so many great options, practically every moment of the day. The bad news is many are happening simultaneously, so the first thing you’ll have to deal with is the fact that you can’t do everything. But relax…you can do a lot. And whatever you end up at will be wonderful. And if you’re traveling with others, you can divide and conquer. Workshops end about 10 minutes before the hour so you should have time for a restroom break and to walk to the next venue. By the way, if you are trying to hang with friends or family, you might want to designate meeting places and times. Cell service is spotty, at best.
Tip #2: Toss the plan. Talk to strangers.
Wild Goose veterans tell us the conversations they have are the most significant part of the Goose experience. As cool as having a plan is, and as amazing as all the speakers, storytellers, mystics and musicians are, often the big life-changing moments at Wild Goose are the small ones. Don’t worry too much about the next event you want to get to. Take the time to meet new people, hang out with them, and don’t rush off from that conversation just to get to the next item on your plan. Forget what your mother might have taught you…and definitely DO talk to strangers. Surprisingly deep encounters with complete strangers, conversations with someone you meet at a workshop, or while picking up some lunch, are a huge part of what makes Wild Goose more than just another summer music festival. Take it in.
Tip #3: Bring your “festive” to the festival. You and what you bring to the festival are a huge part of what makes it what it is. So bring your wild, including a few things to personalize your campsite – flags, fabric, streamers, lights (battery powered and solar Christmas lights work great) – decorating your little corner of the campground will make you and everyone around you feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore. Wear clothes you’d wear around your non-judgey-ist friends…your fun-nest, silliest, wildest, most creative. Strange hats are always welcome. And feather boas, because, well…feather boas.
Tip #4: Do some exploring. When you arrive, grab a map and take a tour of the grounds, locating the various tents where all the workshops and music, art, and worship events will happen. Note where the food vendors are and check out all they will be offering. (That way you won’t get to the end of the weekend and be kicking yourself because you didn’t know they had those crazy-delicious burritos.) Also scope out the restrooms and the Porta-potties…there are plenty of them, so lines are rare… and they’re usually more pleasant than you’d imagine.
Tip #5:. Try something new…or at least not something you do every day. Don’t usually do art? Visit the studio tent and get up to your elbows in a project or two. Don’t usually talk about yourself? Tell your story to the WGTV camera or participate in any number of other storytelling opportunities. Only sing hymns in church? Sing them like you’re at a rugby game with a beer in hand, at one of our Beer and Hymns gatherings. Have a lot of questions? Stop by the Troubling the Gospel Tent and starting asking them. Always wanted a tattoo but just haven’t quite made the leap yet? Visit our tattoo artist (but if you want something custom, contact her ahead of time with your vision). Never experienced a podcast, live? Now’s your chance – check out GooseCast Live.
Tip #6: Take care of yourself. Bring an umbrella. You’ll need it for sun – especially at the Main Stage – and perhaps for rain. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, flashlights, headlamps (always attractive…), and chairs – most people bring folding camp chairs, which you can use at your campsite and also bring with you to the main stage for a comfy seat while listening to music and speakers. Bring a favorite mug, and a water bottle (free bulk water is provided) and stay hydrated. By the way, some people also suggest that you bring a blanket or tarp to put over your tent to keep it cooler and have a battery-powered fan. Important camper tip: Stock up on firewood before 5 PM Thursday while you are still allowed to have your vehicles on the grounds (versus safely tucked away in the parking lot).
Tip #7: Live in the moment, embrace the unpredictable, and also, possibly some rain. Wild geese are, by their very nature, wild….unpredictable, untamed, uncontrollable. That’s why the Wild Goose became the Celtic symbol for Holy Spirit. And the symbol we’ve claimed. So try to be flexible, especially when things don’t go exactly as you’d like them to or think they should. Be open to the moment. Open to new ideas, new ways to connect with God’s wild and loving spirit. Open to new music – emerging artists happen to be playing almost all day every day, at the Cafe. And if the moment happens to include a downpour of rain, consider going out and playing in the mud. (Oh, and if you need a refresher on how to live with gratitude for the moment, feel free to drop by the kids’ tent, for a little reminder.) Speaking of gratitude, find a way to say thank you to the volunteers, every single day. They’re the unsung heroes of this event.
Tip #8: See yourself as an actor, not a spectator. You are a significant contributor. Not an insignificant observer. Tell stories, read your poetry, collaborate on some art, do yoga, speak up in the workshops, dance to the music, take communion, join an instant choir, walk the labyrinth, invite people to have dinner with you, bring your drums and get in the circle, jump in the river, let your hair down, let your guard down, be as fully present as you want to be, and possibly as loud as a wild goose (except after midnight, at which point local ordinances require we quiet down a bit. Which is why we have a Silent Disco).
Tip #9: Enjoy being off the grid for a few days. You know how we mentioned cell service/internet is fairly unreliable? This is because of the beautiful Smoky Mountains surrounding us…and the number of people trying to access it all at one time. So if you can’t check your Facebook, post on Instagram, or Tweet, consider just sitting and taking some deep breaths. Allow yourself to slow down and let feelings happen. You may find yourself having a lot of feelings that don’t fit neatly into a 140 character count. So you might want to bring a journal and a pen. You also might want to get your social media fix while on the road to and from the festival. Which would be great. Instagram, Tweet, Facebook your heart out and share with #WildGoose2016. That way we can all start connecting even before arrival. And stay connected on the way home.
Tip #10: Attend Joy Wallis’s “Get the Most Out of The Goose” session, Thursday, 5PM in the Spirituality Tent. Joy Wallis is our board chair and has been with the festival from the beginning. She knows better than anyone how to do the Goose. So she’ll be sharing her tried and true tips and taking questions. It’s a great chance to meet some new folks right away, too.
Oh, did we mention? The rumors are true. There WILL be ice cream!
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, for the first time ever in the history of the Goose, we will have an ICE CREAM TRUCK. Oh yeah, baby. Look for it near the main stage area.
Have some practical questions we may not have covered here? Check out our FAQ page.
Can’t wait to see you.