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I went to Nelsonville Music Fest for the first time and fell in love

Regina Fox

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“You’re down in Appalachia, everyone here is a weirdo.”

Those were the first words I heard as I came to a stop at the Boxcar Stage at Nelsonville Music Festival and knew I was home.

I’ve been a resident of Columbus and a supporter of the music scene for more than six years, so it’s truly a wonder I never made the 54-minute voyage to Hocking College, the home of NMF. I guess it’s only right that my time came on its crystal (15th) anniversary.

Bonnie Bloomgarden of Death Valley Girls
All photos by Brian Kaiser

I had a lot of incredible experiences at Nelsonville—free and easy parking, little to no lines, reasonably priced food and beer—but the atmosphere and camaraderie championed my experience. Every person I came into contact with was so full of gratitude towards the music and art, uninhibited by their outfit choice of the day (mostly t-shirts, cargo pants, overalls, and bare feet), and full of genuine joy. I think even the infant attendees were under the magnificently happy spell of Nelsonville. Though I knew people there, I spent most of my time there by myself and never felt lonely.

It as like being back in my home village of Arcadia, Ohio where everyone knows your name and asks how you’re doing because they genuinely want to know the state of your well-being. No one gave a damn if their armpits turned ripe in the June sun, or if their kid was knee-deep in mud by the water bottle-filling area. Some folks sat in lawn chairs all day in front of the Main Stage, others kept in close proximity to the beer tent, and others yet supported lesser-known musicians on the Porch Stage with all the gusto their not-ready-for-the-Arnold-Classic bodies could muster. Everyone marched to the beat of their own drum, yet fully embraced the fact that we were all sharing in this beautiful experience with the same soundtrack and respected it. No hate, no judgement, no problem.

And the music—oh the music! If I was a musician, Nelsonville is the only place I’d want to play. Twice my eyes welled up with tears: first during Julia Jacklin’s song about befriending your mother, and second during Mandolin Orange’s set because my grandma would’ve loved it. I didn’t feel bashful getting emotional either, because I knew my company would get it. And Death Cab for Cutie was a dream. With 7,000 of my new best friends, I sang and danced to a band that had been on my bucket list since junior high when I first heard “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”

Julia Jacklin

I’m not sure if it’s because of the beautifully untouched landscape, sense of community fostered over many years of festing together, the mindless escape from reality that only music can provide, or a combination of the three, but Nelsonville Music Fest is a sanctuary away from all the selfie-taking, drama, and manufactured “good times” that other music festivals often include. NMF is organic, playful, and officially added to my list of yearly traditions.

When I'm not weaving a beautiful tapestry of words, I'm likely digging through jewels and vinyls at an antique shop near you.

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Things To Do

New comedy club bringing laughs downtown this summer

614now Staff

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Started as a small improv group around the fall of 2012, Hashtag Comedy Co. has since grown into a full-fledged improv comedy company offering shows, classes, and training to comedy fans in Central Ohio. 

Now, Hashtag has announced a new downtown headquarters to help keep the laughs coming. Opening Summer 2020 at 346 E Long St. at the corner of Long and Grant in downtown Columbus, the venue will focus on improv comedy but also provide audiences with standup, sketch, and variety shows.

“Opening a space for people to be creative and showcase their comedy has been a dream of ours for nearly our entire time together,” Sarah J Storer, founding member, co-owner and Artistic Director at The Hashtag Comedy Company says on their website. “When this opportunity came to us to open a venue in the heart of the city we love, we knew it was the right time and place to make it happen.”

The venue will hold 45-55 patrons on most nights, but can open to accommodate up to 90 for specialty shows and engagements. Stocked with a bar in the theater space and right next door to gourmet to-go kitchen Cluster Truck, patrons will be able to enjoy a great meal and a drink while taking in a show. Classes and corporate workshops will occupy the space during weekends and non-show nights as well as working hours during the day. 

To learn more about how you can get involved with The Hashtag Comedy Company, visit hashtagcomedy.com

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Food & Drink

Tastebud Traveling: Free tasting event coming to North Market

614now Staff

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Take a family tastebud trip with the return of Kalamata’s Kitchen Tasting Tour at the North Market this weekend.

Kalamata’s Kitchen will kick off a 12-month, 12-city tasting tour in Columbus on Saturday, February 22. This premier event for kids and families will feature tasty bites from North Market vendors representing food from around the world.

According to a release, every child participant is treated like a VIP as they discover new foods and learn about unique perspectives from celebrated chefs. Kids receive a VIP badge and a Food Adventure Passport that is stamped each time they try a new food. They will also have the opportunity to meet Sarah Thomas, co-founder and author of the Kalamata’s Kitchen book series.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit kalamataskitchen.com and/or northmarket.com.

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Things To Do

Ohio Plans Statewide St. Patrick’s Day Party at the Polls

Linda Lee Baird

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You may be so busy making St. Patrick’s Day plans that you’ve forgotten another important event happening on Tuesday, March 17. That’s right: it’s the Ohio primary!

You have until Tuesday, February 18 to register to vote or update your registration in time to vote in the primary. The state has made it very easy for you to register right now, from wherever you’re sitting, without having to go anywhere on this snowy day. Just grab your ID, and click here

Then make a plan to vote on March 17, and reward yourself with a green beer afterwards. Sláinte! 

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