Mayfest 2017: “One. Two. Three… Ascend!”

This past Memorial Day weekend, I returned to Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, NY for the annual music, art, and yoga festival known (for now) as MAYfest. This intimate, family friendly, wellness focused event has been a welcome addition to the arguably crowded, and monotonous festival scene here in the Northeast. Similarly setup to its cousin festival Catskill Chill, MAYfest offers attendees a picturesque, NY state campground littered with cabins, vendors, friendly faces, and a lake. However, unlike Chill or other primarily music-based festivals, this event is driven by founders Melia and Dave’s passion for yoga, and pursuit of positive energy. 

The schedule and setup (stage, yoga, and art space) was fairly identical to last year (see here), with one exception being the camping area, which was moved closer to the main building. Similarly, a few of the art activities that were across the lake found a new home in the main building and surrounding area. Now to be honest, this place is not that big, but it definitely cut down on a significant amount of walking (at least I’m out-of-shape), saving some energy to devote to taking on more classes, or relaxing between activities, which there was no shortage of. At any given moment during daylight hours, there were between five and ten activities happening, leaving little chance anyone should find themselves bored.

The main stage was anchored each night by artists I have never seen, each offering vastly different musical stylings; singer-songwriter Dar Williams on Friday, Ozomatli on Saturday, and Rusted Root on Sunday. To be honest, I am not Dar Williams’ target demographic by any stretch of the imagination, so I have little commentary to offer beyond she has a lovely voice and a pretty damn sweet jacket (see below). But I am reliably informed if you attended Vassar in the 90’s, this was your JAM. Ozomatli on the other hand is my new jam. These guys have a ton a energy, and the fusion of Latin, rock, and hip-hop was perfect to get everyone moving their feet. I’m almost ashamed I was not enlightened to these guys earlier, but better late than never. Rusted Root kept the energy going on Sunday, starting off with a sit-in performance at the final yoga class in the gymnasium, and closing out the main stage with their classic hit, “Send me on my way,’ which was the encore for the weekend. 

Other musical highlights included DJ Taz Rashid, DJ Drez, Breakneck Boys, Hayley Jane & the Primates, and the Garcia Project, all who had crossover sets / sit-ins with yoga classes (except for HJ&tP). Overall, I’m going to say the line-up was well balanced. I arrived fearing it would not be able to compete with last year’s combination of Pink Talking Fish, the Sensory Collective, and Turkuaz, but the variety mixed well, and my opinion changed by Monday morning. What also had changed by Monday morning was the name of the festival, which will be known as Ascend moving forward. 

With merchandise already being sold for next year’s event, there seems little doubt that we will be back. Same place. Same time. Same good vibes. Till then, take a look at a few of the sights from the festival now formally known as MAYfest. 



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