Art and music festivals around the country come as richly varied in look and style as the many people who organize them. But most of them look pretty much the same after the fun is over.
“Whenever you’re done, it’s just a field of trash,” said Kerry Myers, a local booking agent, musician and yoga instructor. “There has to be some sort of self-accountability for the trash that you use instead of just destroying the space.”
Myers is one of the organizers behind the inaugural Indigo Fest, which is advertised as a “music, art and healing” camping festival hoping to promote and practice “green” or sustainable habits.
Indigo Fest runs Sept. 22-24 at Blue Doors at Tenkiller, an environmentally self-sustaining camping ground and retreat in eastern Oklahoma near Gore and Lake Tenkiller.
Though out-of-state bands will participate in the festival, the bill resembles a who’s who of local performers. Singer-songwriters Ali Harter and Chelsey Cope, Latin-infused synth-pop vocalist Lincka, rapper Jabee, neo-soul quartet Bowlsey, former Okies and current Nashville folk-rockers Twiggs and experimental indie rock quintet Wildings are among the many scheduled acts.
As eclectic as Indigo’s music lineup is, participating artists and festivalgoers are united under similar self-awareness and passion for personal growth.
Britt Johnson, one of the fest’s founders, said while festivals and generally any large gathering of people deal with similar waste problems, she hopes Indigo will come to represent a change in the paradigm.
“We really wanted to shift that around and show that you could leave a space better than when you got there,” Johnson said.
Indigo Fest is an extension of the conservation and sustainability ethos already in place at Blue Doors. The site grows much of its own food, including organically raised poultry and beehives. Its cabins are energy-efficient.
Guests at the inaugural festival will be asked to bring their own trash bags and stay accountable for their own waste. Attendees will also be provided with additional trash bags on-site. Recycling and compost bins will be available for depositing appropriate materials.
Myers hopes that increased awareness of the personal trash guests produce over the few days will lead them to an epiphany.
“Hopefully, over the weekend, people might realize how much they’re left with that they can’t recycle or compost and they realize their personal carbon footprint,” she said.
Waste reduction is one of the reasons Indigo Fest decided not to sell alcohol. Beverage consumption is one of the biggest causes of post-fest garbage.
“We won’t have a million plastic cups floating around the property,” Myers said.
To be clear, alcohol is not prohibited at Indigo Fest — it just won’t be sold there.
“That’s a moneymaker for events,” Johnson said. “We were like, ‘OK. We’re going to take that chance by not doing that.’”
Guests are free to bring their own alcohol, but large quantities of booze that could be independently sold on the grounds are not allowed.
Indigo Fest is about more than just waste reduction — it’s a mindfulness retreat. Be Love Yoga Studio will provide on-site yoga workshops. It is popular for many multi-day music and camping festivals to offer yoga classes, but few are as holistically engaged as Indigo, where guests can receive Reiki massage, Tarot readings and natal chart interpretations.
Indigo takes its name from the type of spiritual auras that are said to dwell around those who feel a deeply rooted connection to everyone and everything around them.
Johnson said Indigo does not cater exclusively to those with spiritual interests. The fest is about the oneness people feel with others through art and Earth-consciousness.
Examples of art bringing a community together can be found all over the city and state. Johnson said anyone who shares a similar collaborative mindset is welcome to join them.
“All these artists and creators have built this,” she said. “Our generation is a huge portion of it.”
Though the participating bands represent a wide range of styles, Indigo Fest was looking for a very specific type of performer when it booked the event.
“It’s the people who are trying to change how we connect with each other and are sharing good vibes instead of just stuff about money or material objects,” Johnson said. “We found an amazing lineup of people who we feel hold those values.”
Johnson wanted artists who were as excited about the fest’s concept as they were. The music application for the festival included questions like, “Do you speak on self-confidence?”
Johnson said music without meaning is not just one of her personal pet peeves. She believes superficial songs are becoming a music industry relic.
“There’s going to be a time when that ends — the surface catchiness,” she said.
Every Indigo Fest artist is getting paid, but mostly just enough to travel to and camp at Blue Doors. Myers has noticed enthusiastic support of the fest’s message from scheduled performers.
“That’s been really big to me the last couple of months,” she said, “seeing all of these people wanting to come together for this vision that we have. It’s beautiful.”
Usually environmentally conscious, self-aware music fans who want to go to a festival would be forced to put their convictions on hold for the duration of the weekend. Indigo Fest hopes to provide a long-term alternative for those people.
Myers said the festival will continue each year, hopefully growing to a scale where it can afford to book large national bands. She wants Indigo Fest to not only be an experience, but a way to change people’s mindsets toward conservation.
“It’s just about taking small steps to make this way of life easier for you,” Myers said.
Johnson she hopes Indigo Fest can turn any profits into a significant, tangible investment in the environment. She also expects spinoff Indigo projects to emerge from the festival and promote conservation year-round.
Blue Doors at Tenkiller
98413 Oklahoma Highway 100, Gore
Print headline: Green peace, Indigo Fest music and camping festival promotes spiritual and environmental consciousness in eastern Oklahoma.