I always continue to wear my festival bands proudly, even long after the festival is over. The Mysteryland band, however, does not just hold sentimental value; it is a way for Nomads to find one another long after we have all left the Holy Grounds. As a second-year attendee, I can say with certainty, Mysteryland continues to thrive off the sacred energy of the Woodstock ’69 grounds.
During my time on the grounds, I had the privilege of walking through the Woodstock museum, as well as the “PLUR: The Rise of Electronic Music Culture in America” exhibition. You can read about my comparison of the exhibits more in depth here. Yet, I cannot help but apply this comparison to my experience. Woodstock ’69 was a celebration of music, arts, and culture with an ingrained sense of political and societal beliefs of the “counterculture” or “hippie” generation. Many of the same beliefs hold true to the current Mysteryland Nomads. One of the first quotes you see upon walking into the Woodstock museum reads, “I think the thing that I enjoyed the most, not that really surprised me the most…. People were so friendly. […] if you needed something and they saw you needed it, they’d give it to you. Or if you had something that somebody else wanted, you’d give it to them” (Dan Yaun).

Mysteryland truly mimics this way of life. Many times throughout each day, I spoke with a stranger as if I had known them for a lifetime. Whether in my campsite or at a stage, new friends merged with my group simply because of our friendly appearance. Even when embarking upon the long trek from the campsite to the music, all conversations were free game to join in.
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Three quick favorite moments:

1. I was quietly people watching on the grass by the bathrooms, waiting for my friend. All of a sudden, a girl with a beautiful flower crown and a charismatic voice says, “I don’t know where my friends went, so I’m gonna sit with you until they find me.” We continued to talk to each other about our festival experiences — where, what, when, how and so forth — until our respective people found us. It was a surprising and wonderful way to start my day of adventure.

2. We were in a group trekking from campsite to festival, when my silly friend decides to start pranking people to pass the time. Joining in the fun, I slapped his butt and passed him on the left, as he loudly accused the girl to his right. After some kerfuffle and laughter, this wonderful girl ended up joining our crew all the way to the main stage. She met our family, who was waiting for us, and raged with us for a good portion of Netsky (which, by the way, was the best set of the whole weekend and she would have not gone, had it not been for our little prank).
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3. I was flowing by myself at Dillon Francis, completely in my own bubble. Those around me were respectfully watching as well as dancing hard themselves. (For those who do not know, “flowing” is in reference to the Flow Arts which include artistic expression such as; gloving, hooping, poi, and my flow art, orbiting.)
4 Dillon
Suddenly I hear someone calling me by my artist name, Zenn Mahre. I turn to see some of my friends from the Emazing Lights Facebook group, whom I had been trying to find all day. We traded shows, talked about techniques, and we got to hang out ‘in real life’ for the first time. This is a perfect example of what I like to call ‘festival destiny:’ when you stop trying to make things happen, they usually just do. Many a time I have spent too long looking for friends instead of enjoying the music. When you let go, more often than not, you will find the people that you are supposed to find. This continues to surprise me.
5 Flow
All of these little moments are not just encouraged or rare, they are a part of the culture, ingrained in the very fabric of all those who attend.

Although the festival patrons, production, and performers were complete heaven, Mysteryland is only in its second year. As expected with a new festival, there are many kinks that still need attention. Attendees discussed the challenges of the security line getting into the festival loudly. It was a definite test of physical endurance to bring camping gear through the security check. It was also a test of one’s math and economic skills when working with the cashless ‘birdy buck’ system. The constant conversion made it difficult to keep track of one’s spending. I personally had some experiences in which security personnel were unable to help because they were unfamiliar with the grounds and the slightly new set up. Unfortunately, these small inconveniences come with the territory of a festival that is run by, ID&T, a well-known production company. The Woodstock grounds do not allow car camping which affects the security check and since the festival is new, ID&T must hire an outside security company. (I expand more on this in my museum article here.
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Even with the growing pains, I am confident that Mysteryland will continue to become more magical as true nomads bring more friends to leave footprints in our hearts. During the festival, I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a utopia in which, nomads are kind, generous, open and caring. After the festival, we seek each other out in order to make that utopia a reality. It is a magic that truly stays with you. Without fail, when I re-watch the closing ceremonies of Mysteryland, I am overcome with joy, love, hope, and dreams for the mystery that lies tomorrow.
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All Photographs by Philosopher in a Vest