by Connor Bischoff
The car’s all packed. Beers on ice. Five meals planned out. It’s looking like it’s to be a great weekend…. All that stands between me and the Get Down is an assessment of a town park that I have to do for Capstone. Gerard tells me he’ll follow me from there. I’ll be testing out my car tent – my soon to be home – for the first time.
Otis Mountain Getdown was created by a couple of friends with great ideas and the space to make them happen. The event takes place on an old ski slope in Elizabethtown, NY. The ski slope was operated from 1950 through the 1970s until poor snow and pricey insurance forced them to close. For years it was a place for locals to go, but little else happened. The Otis Mountain Get Down has instilled new life into an otherwise forgotten mountain. The event started back in 2002 and ran until 2009. It then took a four-year hiatus and re-emerged in 2013.
When I first heard about Otis in 2014 I was new to the college, and was skeptical of how good it was going to be. It was September and the weekend called for rain. Frankly, I doubted that the $40 ticket was going to be worth it, and despite how much my friends pressured me to go, I decided to stay in. I did homework, watched a major storm through the window, and thought to myself how smart I had been for staying in. This inflated feeling of smugness was quickly extinguished when my friends came in with their soaking wet sleeping bags and clothes, exhausted smiles, and stifled giggles about what had happened. It was the event of the year. And I had missed it to do homework. Haha…
The next year I was sure to buy a ticket early. And Otis Mountain Get Down ended up being more than I had expected. Great music, art, and food. The North Country had sudden transformed from a place that was predominately an aging population to the epicenter of youth and energy. This event was different from any other festival I had attended. The energy was buzzing with a cool calmness. People were coming all over the United States. It felt like the summer’s last encore – fall was waiting to take the stage.
Saturday morning, a few friends and I cooked breakfast and took off to hike Hurricane Mountain. We had the mountain to ourselves, and a commanding view of the area. This is a spot that only locals, or really well-informed visitors, know about. This is the advantage we had over the people who traveled from afar to get to this music festival; the advantage of calling the Adirondacks both home and backyard.
After a long nap we made our way back to the main stage and awaited the featured sets. Meanwhile deep purple clouds appeared on the horizon behind the neighboring mountain range, and gusts of wind started to howl through the crowds with increasing ferocity. The attendees kept on dancing but would drop their state of bliss for a half-second after each band to re-assess the impending storm.
Everyone knew the inevitable. Around 8 o’clock, the skies opened up and everyone ran for shelter. My friends and I, being more backpackers than traditional festival goers, had small tents that we knew we couldn’t go in and out of without risking getting all our belongings wet. So we headed for the Subaru, stripped out of our soaking clothes, and dried ourselves with towels in the cramped confines of the hatch. There was no signs of this monsoon stopping. We figured the night was over…. So we made the best of it. In the back of the car we huddled under blankets and drew out the narrative of our summer stories in the condensation that had accumulated on the windows. There were deep laughs intermixed with serious thoughts, and a wide range of emotions. Everyone took their turn changing the music. After what seemed to be hours, the static-like sound of rain stopped pounding the roof.