When my daughter, Stephanie, asked me to go with her to the Reggae Festival, because a friend had overbooked herself, I said, sure, secretly hoping that I could somehow sneak into the truck and be with her. She would be vending her uniquely ‘ice-dyed’ clothing and her handmade jewelry at the ___ Annual Reggae Festival in Louisville, KY. We had a few days to ready ourselves, from me, getting the farm ready for my absence, to Stephanie, packing all the items she would readily need. Tuesday night I thought I might reserve a room, even though Steph told me she would have slept in her car/my truck!, I decided to see what was available in the area. Besides, why else did I use the credit card for everything from thousands of dollars (restoring 1920 refrigerator and stove for the ‘Shepherd’s Croft’ to buying a 1.00 hamburger at McDonald’s. The rooms popped up, saying ONE ROOM left, which I thought was some kind of marketing ploy, but realizing how lucky we were when after I clicked, ‘Reserve’ the hotel was there showing “Sold Out’. Lucky Us.
There was an urgency on my part to plant those sunflower seeds and cosmos, because I knew I would be gone about five days and the summer was getting here sooner than expected, along with lining up who would feed and take care of “Baby Girl”, the bottle-fed sheep, and “Bobby’ ( the bottle fed calf) and line up the helpers for Joe, the alpaca shearer. Dan graciously and empathically said, “ Go with Stephanie, I will take care of the farm!” We both always put the girls first, above our own needs. Jo, our wonderful neighbor, agreed to feed Baby Girl and Bobby during the days that Dan would be a work. My job soon became evident that I was to ‘Let go, Let God’, as I often had to do in the past. My mantra is….He is the creator of this universe, He can take care of the farm.
How quick can a banner be made? Wednesday morning, I drove to Staples, to put in a rush order. No problem, it’s just I got all the way home later that evening, only to discover I didn’t go back to Staples to pick it up. Off Julianne goes running by Staples. I go to Bud’s to pick up a tent canopy, only to discover it had no cover. Good thing we set it up at his house before we get to the festival in Louisville! We would use one we had at the farm, no matter what shape it was in.
Well, Thursday morning around 10:30, Stephanie drove up to the farm, truck overflowing, she wondered where in the world we would pack the tent, my clothes, my wheel. I wondered what Stephanie would truly think when I packed the wheel and my bags of fiber. Little did she know, that THAT wheel would be a big hit and lure folks into her booth. Who would expect a spinning wheel at a Reggae Fest?
A bit excited was my little girl, as we traveled through the last little bit of NC, into Tennesse, and finally up to Kentucky. Emotions included, would we get there on time, did I bring the right stuff, would they buy my clothes, would the weather co-operate? Stress good and bad fueled us through the interstates and brought us to the “ Historic Water Tower” of Louisville, KY., where the festival would be our home for the next three days.
We arrived at an unexpected high energy word fight between some vendors and the vendor chair. Causing her to yell at the vendors to sit down that she would deal with them later. We were told to sit in the area that was reserved for vendors who had already paid. After the weekend was over, we would be ‘seasoned’ vendors, but not now, we didn’t know what to do. The table we claimed as our own had a soft-spoken lady who introduced herself as Chata, a Romania Gypsy along with her ‘auntie’, who was a palm reader. Chata spoke right away of those angry people who shouldn’t throw out so much bad energy to ‘Jennifer’ the vendor chair, who obviously had gone through cancer treatment because of her bald head.
It was there that Stephanie and I realized that we were the only white people who would be vending, hence the title of my story…. Is that how Rosa Parks felt as she coyly but bravely sat on that bus in the middle of whites.
I was aware of the ethnic difference but didn’t know what the weekend would bring. Right away, as we were struggling with the manipulation of erecting the tent canopy, a man who would later be introduced as “Ba” helped push up that tent in a flash. Well, that was a great start!
Julianne, once found out the show didn’t start till Friday at 5 pm, wondered why we drove up there on Thursday. The festival was advertised as first come, first served so Stephanie thought that she better get there to lay claim to the best spot. Knowing that Julianne had never planned and set up a show before, I explained to her the process of nerves, tables, nerves, shelving, nerves, and perfect placement of all racks had to be in order, so a day to prepare would be better than letting it go till the last minutes/ hours before the show opened to the public.
One couple let us borrow their hand truck to make our set up from the truck to spot easier. One lady told us repeatedly how the culture is different here. After I helped the man next to us put up his canopy, she motherly advised me to ‘let them do the work’ they are the MEN. She continued to give us her advice all throughout the weekend, from what Stephanie was wearing to who was in charge around the festival.
The lady, next to us, Tracy, and her boss/owner, Melissa told us about lights to get for an outside booth, and how the festival was great and crowds would be coming. Hence started the list for Lowes and Walmart.
On to Lowes to get the booth lights so customers would have a most enjoyable shopping experience at “Air to Be” booth because items were lighted and enticing! Haha, after 30 minutes of setting up those lights on Friday, we both deciding the lights, along with the 12 dollar pack of D batteries that were not opened yet, would find its way back to the return desk at Lowes.
They only worked when one of us would cover the light completely till darkness automatically turned the spotlight on. We also concluded that 200 lumens didn’t go far to spotlight her apparel.
After Lowes, it was back to the GPS to find the closest Walmart. All I had to do was look up. Walmart was direct across the street! Lucky again. No unnecessary exploring this city, which over the Ohio River was Jeffersonville, Indiana. Which bring me to a heart-stopping moment I forgot to tell. It was the night before our departure from NC. I thought I better double check our hotel room, JUST to make sure I had a room. I go to my reservations at Choicehotels.com and see that my reserved room was in Indiana. Anxiety made my heart pump….did I click the wrong state??? Did we really NOT have a hotel room? No, calm down Julie, I finally realized that even though the hotel was only 3 miles away, there could be a strong possibility that we would have to go into another state. Yeah, that was the deal. We still had a place to lay our heads.
After picking up everything from extra shelving, to nail polish, food, and drinks, we ventured to the hotel and crashed. The best thing was knowing that the doors to the festival wouldn’t open to the public till 5 pm!, we had plenty of time.
So how many times did we go from the festival to the hotel? Maybe 4 times, we have to laugh, we never went the same way twice. Each time, venturing into the nightlife of downtown Louisville.
Friday night was rather slow, so it gave us time to meet more vendors, and look at their wares. So many colorful dresses, pants, and tops. It was Friday that I met Kroots, a man from East Africa. He was intrigued by my spinning fiber into yarn. You KNOW it, I didn’t miss any opportunity to tell people about spinning. He told me of his grandmother and ladies in East Africa that spun, but used a drop spindle instead. Well, you know I sat him down and let him spin some mohair. He loved it. Later during the weekend, I witnessed him praying, towards Mecca, which impressed me. Would Christians publicly pray? Do Christians show their faith in restaurants??? For grace? How we have become passive and take our religious freedom for granted. Kroots spoke 5 languages and was an artist. He had painted on wooden slats that he had to buy. I immediately think of QMS and all the extra wood from the cut-out speaker holes. But, I think of the rusted saw blades in the rock pile at the farm.destined to find their way to kroot’s art table. He even had clocks on some of his wooden paintings. Yeah, my rusty old saw blades might be born again!
Most of the vendors would pass by and say, Hello, how are you doing? Very kind and personable. I very quickly realized that I was not seeing them as African Americans any more but people who were trying to make a dollar. One time was quite funny, Steph came back to the booth and she had walked past a booth and the vendor said, “Come one in.” Once she went in, he said, “you haven’t been in my booth yet!’. And when she answered to him that he hadn’t come into her booth yet either, he was astonished, saying…” you have a booth?” Steph tells him, “ yeah, I sell apparel too.”. He kids with her and says,” You leave, your competition!” and they both laugh together.
One story I think is so funny is that when I was teaching Kroots to spin, I got Steph to take a video or photo and sent it out to Danielle and Julianne. What does Danielle reply with? “how much is the purse hanging in the background?” I laughed so hard. So, there goes a sale for Ba!, the vendor next to us.
The best, best, best thing of the whole weekend was to watch Stephanie over and over again working with people as they meandered into her booth to peruse her items. She would shine as she asked them about what they might be looking for, as they were hunting another size, proud of her creativity in her individual ice dyed items. She is blossoming into a perfect salesperson that goes beyond just making a sale but ….has to give the “I feel great feeling” to her customers once they put on her ice dyed one of a kind item.
Saturday was eventful in the end. It started raining and lightning, around 9:30, they shut down the band, gave everyone a ‘raincheck’ to come back Sunday and told vendors to pack up and go home. They were shuttin’ it down.
We got Mexican! we didn’t know what we had ordered and the bill was 29.00, We got too much food, but you know me, it came with us the next day and was food during Sunday. To go to the hotel early wasn’t good for business, but it was sure good for our bodies!