“Alright folks, I’m kind of hungry. I think I’m going to have a light snack.” Amidst the rolling hills of the Kennebecasis River Valley, people from all over gathered just outside of the peaceful hamlet of Sussex. The morning sun shone brightly, warming my skin as the smiles of strangers, friends and families warmed my heart. The positivity in the air consumed me. Like everybody else, I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear. And then Miss Cassandra Strange proceeded to eat a light bulb.
She called upon a volunteer from the audience to ensure that it was an authentic light bulb. Just like that, she began breaking it up into little pieces and consuming it, her crunching amplified through the microphone. Her performance as one half of the east coast side show ‘The Strange and Bizzar’ lived up to their name. I cringed as I watched Jason Bizzar empty a large box of broken glass onto a tarp that laid on the ground. Slowly he stepped on to the bed of broken glass; I couldn’t help but close my eyes. Peering through my fingers held in front of my face, I watched him jump with all of his might and roll his body over this bed of broken beer bottles. “Afternoon Delight is a fun and safe gathering of amazing people and talented artists. We will be back”, he tells me as he wipes the paint off of his face at the end of the show.
“There’s something for everybody here,” I was told as I looked around noticing all the children running, laughing and dancing alongside the white haired festival-veterans who stood strong holding their wooden walking staffs. There were a surprising number of friendly dogs who trotted around patiently awaiting love from any human. People transformed themselves into walking works of art as they decorated their bodies with beautiful face paint and body paint. My senses were flooded with the technicolour clothing of the vendor village; all shapes and sizes hanging in contrast against the large white tents, gracefully dancing with the wind. The essence of natural soaps and patchouli filled my lungs. Beautiful fresh pizza being pulled out of what looked like a rough pile of mud, but was, in fact, a carefully assembled pile of mud called a cob oven that produced the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. Nearby, a lovely lady had set up a table full of raw vegan gluten free treats and treated me to one of her heavenly chocolate and coconut ‘luv cups’.
“It’s about getting out there and wiggling your butt in a field.”
The afternoon was full of the delightful sounds of Isaac and Blewett. Their entrancing melodies filled the air and set a sweet mood to the festival. After the show, Tim Isaac told me that they have been playing together for over eighteen years. The time they’ve spent together shows in the way they speak to each other through their music without a word. One of the east coast favourites, Slowcoaster, took the stage late in the evening and the crowd happily gathered, ready to shake their butts. This three-piece reggae combo had everybody singing, laughing and of course dancing. Spirits were high and the night was young. The dance floor was well warmed for headliners Moon Hooch, who traveled from Brooklyn, New York to treat us at this festival. The primal jazz trio consists of two saxophone players and a drummer, unlike anything I had ever heard before. The combination of the deep bass sax and the intricate tenor hit me hard. The crowd’s energy was thriving and I didn’t want the night to end.
“There is no better high than standing at the front of a stage with your eyes closed, feeling all the vibrations go through your body, and knowing everyone around you is feeling the same thing. It’s something special.”
“The way I see this festival, or any festival for that matter, is just a large scale of people practicing radical acceptance. We hold no judgments here, we are free,” says festival-goer Ryan Hourihan. It’s that ‘no judgment’ ideology within this festival community that makes it so special. In offering each other compassion, we encourage spiritual growth within ourselves and in each other. The up close and personal atmosphere of the smaller festival promotes an intimacy amongst revelers. The small stage allows a hands-on experience with the musicians. By the end of the evening, the whole festival was one big family. Everywhere I looked people were hugging one another like long lost friends who haven’t seen each other in years; truth is, they probably just met. Afternoon delight definitely has a small town charm that is different from any other festival in the Maritimes. The family-friendly, pet-friendly place has a way of making you feel at home. The experience was truly uplifting–even when those kids shot me with their super-soakers.