So two weeks ago I attended the Watershed Music Festival at the Gorge in Eastern, WA and it has taken me two weeks to really take it all in and grasp what I encountered. Those that live out in Seattle know that there are a lot of festivals that take place and I am truly convinced that word festival means “Let the crazies out.” I am not creating this conclusion from one experience. I have been to the Summer Solstice Festival, Folk Life Festival, Bumbershoot and many more. Watershed, etched this theory into stone.
Watershed was my first actual country concert and it opened my eyes up to how many Rednecks there really are just in Washington. While at the festival, I put on my sociologist hat and made some observations. Observation 1: Just as there is a separation between rich and poor and this gap keeps getting wider, there is a separation between Redneck an the very Redneck. At Watershed, this gap could not have been better summarized than by the border between Premier camping and General camping. It seemed like the US-Mexico border. There was even a fence with security guards to draw this line. We were in premier so I guess I would just be considered Redneck. We had showers and bathrooms with running water. Across the border, the didn’t take shower and their bathrooms were Honey Buckets. There was a joke going around that across the border was “District 9”. This was pretty funny to me but don’t take offense to it its just a joke.
Observation 2: Rednecks have a strong tendency to be White/Caucasian. This is probably not of much surprise to you but it was an observation. Over the whole weekend we counted a total of 6 African Americans and 3 Asians which clearly shows that if you are of these ethnicities, you probably aren’t a Redneck. Oddly enough we did see some very young kids at this festival which shows that some Rednecks really want to bring up their kids in the Redneck culture. This is not something my child will be doing but to each their own.
Observation 3: Rednecks LOVE “America.” At one point I thought I was possibly on a military base with all of the loud chants of U.S.A. American flag apparel broadened to every square inch of people’s bodies. Red, white and blue shorts, shirts, bras, boots, hats, jewelry, sunglasses, tents and more. Some of this apparel was acceptable but just not on the people that were wearing it. I hope these people know who they are and just had a short “break” from reality.
Observation 4: Rednecks love giving high fives. As you walk through the crowds people just tended to yell and give everyone around high fives. Many of these were guys with their shirts off, cowboy boots on, belt buckles big and shiny and walking around like they owned this ranch. Then there was the occasional 6’ 10” giant that gave high fives with purpose and power. During my first experience with one of these I thought I was going to come away with a dislocated shoulder or at minimum a rotator cuff tear. This guy came through their like Andre the Giant. He kind of looked like Andre as well.
Observation 5: Toby Keith is a Redneck but not a good performer: Toby Keith was the headliner of the festival even though there was much better talent on the first and last day. He came out on stage having noticeably taken down a few beers. He didn’t do much on stage except stand in one spot and yell out “America.” He was be endorsed by the military because every song speaks of our country. He did talk about his “Red Solo Cup,” but other than that didn’t play his better hits. Many people including us left early to go ride the carnival rides which were much more entertaining.
Observation 6: Classy is not in the Redneck Vocabulary. I know I probably have hit on this before but since it was so apparent in my observations I must return to explain further. One example of this lack of class was two 15 year old girls walking around with their tops off and only a duct tape “X” over their breasts. I did not see these two classy girls but was told by a credible source. Even worse, these two girls seemed to be with their parents. Other examples included very overweight women with very short shorts and small tops going up on stage just begging for some attention. There also was of course the occasional Redneck fight. There were a few without all their front teeth and of course there was every type of broken down RVs and trucks you could imagine. Some people I think even lived in their RVs and used the roof as their porch.
Watershed was definitely an eye opening experience. When 30,000 Rednecks come together and you give it the “Festival” title you never know who will show up or what to expect. One thing that you can be sure of though is that you better love your country or you will get booted right out of this Redneck culture :)