written by Christina Best
Clusters of college-aged adults walking, talking, and drinking beer from plastic cups — a reggae rap band playing on a main stage overlooking 670 — topless woman sitting in the grass of Goodale Park and small groups of young women who looked like they just got back from Coachella — vendors selling all-natural health products and tie-dye. All of this was punctuated by the smell of weed. This is Comfest, and at the time — I was ready to see some boobs.
It was then I felt like Annie seeing Daddy Warbuck’s mansion for the first time. “I think I’m going to like it here.” But if Comfest was like “Annie,” then Independent’s Day Festival was akin to Dorothy’s fever dream in “The Wizard of Oz.”
I’ve only lived in Columbus a few months, but many of my new connections were in attendance at Independents Day. There was my leasing agent, a comedian from “Monday Night Live,” and a new friend, whom I met at the two-year anniversary party for Creative Babes—whose mission is to bring together the creative, entrepreneurial women of Columbus in a supportive environment.
Even the live band that assisted me during karaoke to “Oops I Did it Again” at Little Rock Bar in Italian Village was there. Much like Dorothy, I wanted to exclaim, “and you were there, and so were you!” to all the faces I saw at Independent’s Day. Despite being one of the 20 biggest cities in terms of population in the U.S., this festival made me realize that Columbus is a big small city. And, taking into account my Comfest experience, I also understand what a positive impact hyper-local initiatives have had on the Columbus community.
On paper, Comfest and Independent’s Day achieve a similar purpose. They introduce the community to all the local music, food, beer, and art offerings in the city. The execution, however, varies greatly. While Comfest gave me a very 70s peace-and-love vibe, Independent’s Day seemed to be more urban-friendly, with its live graffiti painting and city-inspired sets (such as the Orange Barrel Media faux-subway cars).
I preferred Independent’s Day’s size and scope. At times, Comfest felt congested and a bit confusing to navigate.
There was signage a-plenty at Independent’s Day, and the festival took place in a more confined area. I also appreciated all the Millennial-friendly photo ops—from the big block letters spelling out “Columbus” to the vertical garden near the Strongwater “zone.” I also preferred the music. A highlight for me was MojoFlo—a neo-funk soul band whose lead singer, Amber Knicole, instructed all the ladies to “squat with a pop, attitude at the top.” I will never forget this dance move, as long as I live.
But there is more than enough room for both of these community celebrations in this big-little city. I love how each festival uniquely represents of all the creative, community-oriented endeavors going on in Columbus. I also think these events do a great job at celebrating the diversity of the people who live here. My overall impression of the city is that people here are friendly and that the community-at-large is a tolerant and progressive one. You’re a little weird and a whole lot of awesome Columbus. I’m proud to call you my new home.
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