Sam Homola and Savanah O’Brien  The Mainstream

Photo by Shawna Depew

The summer festival season is kicking off, a time of year eagerly awaited by fanatic festival goers.

Eugene resident Shawna Depew returned Monday, May 28 from the Gorge Amphitheater where she spent the weekend immersing herself in the 16th annual Sasquatch Music Festival. She experienced a diverse selection of musical performances and her favorite aspect, a connection with all the other people that come to share in the experience together.

“I saw older people and parents who brought their small children. It’s an amazing atmosphere.”

Other popular festivals are right around the corner, making the upcoming summer very exciting for some.

Paradiso, a popular EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival, is coming to the Gorge Amphitheater June 15 and 16. The festival will include thrill rides, art installments, and performances from DJSnake, Rezz, Virtual Self and more. General admission costs $195 (plus fees and taxes) with standard camping at $107.50. Makayla Smith will be skipping Paradiso this year as the festival falls on the same weekend as her graduation from UCC. Like Depew, however, Smith also loves that people come to festivals for the same reason: “to listen to good music and dance for hours.”

Bumbershoot, a festival in Seattle, WA, will start on August 31 and end on September 2. Headlining the festival is J. Cole, Lil Wayne, SZA and T-Pain. Prices start at $240 for a three day pass with a payment program for those who can’t pay the price in full.

For country fans, the 2018 Country Crossings Music Festival is taking place from July 26 to 29 in Central Point, Oregon. Headliners include Brad Paisley, Cole Swindell and Eric Church. Four day passes start at $180 as well as $500 for a four day camping pass.

Eric Church will also make an appearance at the Bimart Willamette Country Music Festival along with Lady Antebellum and Kid Rock. The festival will take place August 16 through 19 in Brownsville, Oregon. General admission is $180 for all four days or $100 for a single day pass with camping at $200. There are special ticket packages available as well as volunteer opportunities which will get you two general admission tickets.

Jazz fans can enjoy the Oregon Festival of American Music in Eugene, Oregon from August 1 to 11. Tickets packages start at $155 and can either be bought online or at The Shedd Institute, located at 868 High St, Eugene, OR.

The 4 Peaks Music Festival in Bend, OR is coming up on June 21, ending on June 24. This festival highlights multiple bands and offers other festivities such as yoga and silent disco. Tickets start at $200. Kids 10 and under are free. Camping is free as long as you do not have an RV. If so, RV passes cost $150. Day parking cost $5 per day for cars.

In San Francisco, California, Outside Lands 2018 starts from August 10 to 12. Headliners include The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine and Janet Jackson. Three day passes start at $375, but the festival promoters have a layaway program for easier payments. Outside Land attendees can choose to pay $255 for a parking pass or $40 for a shuttle pass that goes back and forth from the San Francisco Civic Center to the festival.

In the world of dance, head bangers are dismissing Paradiso and looking ahead to Bass Canyon, another EDM festival which will be visiting the Gorge for the first time August 24 through 26. This festival includes four nights of camping at the scenic Gorge and three days of music from the heaviest hitters in bass music. Excision will be featured in three sets with one being back to back with Nghtmre. General admission is considerably less than Paradiso at $125 (plus fees) and standard camping at $109.50.

With festival season comes dangers, and all participants should be aware and prepared to combat the risks to keep their festival journey a positive experience.

Many perceive the greatest danger of festivals to be the drugs associated with the festival experience. Whether it be alcohol or molly, festival guests can be at high health risk while dancing in the blistering sun. At Paradiso 2017, there was one death among dozens of molly overdoses. The closest ER, which typically sees around nine admissions a day, treated 40 patients for issues related to drugs and alcohol during the festival and the following few days.

Many people at concerts or music festivals taking drugs and alcohol tend to see the security staff as a sort of anti-fun alliance when, in reality, they are just wanting everyone to have fun. Shontae Domninguez, a security guard for the Roseland Theater, located in Portland, Oregon, stated, “The main goal is safety for everybody.” Whether it be someone having a seizure from the strobe light or an overdose on ecstasy, security is there to make sure people are safe.

CIS major Tasha Patton has been to Paradiso three times among many other festivals and shares her views on the molly issue: “It makes people feel extremely euphoric and like they’re at their best when in reality it’s causing dehydration and heart rate and blood pressure to dramatically increase. The best way to avoid a trip to the emergency room is to simply not take molly. It’s dangerous and illegal for a reason.”

Depew thinks these individuals going for the drugs are approaching the festival experience with the wrong mindset: “They think it’s just a three-day party but it’s a magical, spiritual experience if you let it be.”

Experts said in an interview with Live Science that when the body is overloaded with stimulants like Molly or MDMA, the user is likely to have poor judgment which leads them to ingest more. This causes an increase in body temperature, a suppressed appetite, and toxic delirium. The drugs, alcohol, heat, and dancing ultimately lead to dehydration and the loss of electrolytes which aren’t replaced by only drinking water. Eventually, the body will go into multiple organ failure.

It is important at these festivals to make sure you pack snacks, fluids charged with electrolytes (like Gatorade) and a clear, reusable water bottle or a camelpak. To keep protected from the sun it is also important to remember a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Knowing one’s own limits and being well prepared will allow everyone to better enjoy the music and all-around festival experience.

Also, make sure to stay with your group and keep with the buddy system. Be smart with your decisions and only take and use what is your own or your groups.

Despite the dangers, Patton enjoys the judge free atmosphere and the break from real life stress. “There’s always tons of positivity and creativity at festivals which is what I find the most mesmerizing.”

She urges everyone to go to a music festival at least once, calling it “an experience of a lifetime.”