By Rachel Goff
"I am so absolutely exhausted," Jeff Mack said on Monday, August 25. Last weekend, Mack organized Vermont Music Fest, which brought 4,200 people to Lareau Farm in Waitsfield on Saturday, August 23.
In addition to Vermont Music Fest, there were four other music festivals going on across the state last weekend, "but a good party definitely gets people's attention," Mack said. In fact, he relies mostly on word of mouth to promote Vermont Music Festival and spends only a nominal amount of money on advertising. "Our budget is really about the musicians and the stage," he said.
In addition to the thousands of attendees, the 2014 Vermont Music Fest included 79 musicians, 19 food and drink vendors, 32 sponsors, 50 volunteers and 8 staff members. This year, "We grew as much as we wanted to," Mack said, explaining the event has evolved organically over the past five years from its first run as Jeff and Kelly Mack's wedding after-party in 2009.
New this year, Vermont Music Fest included a pre-party with camping on Friday, August 22, hosted by Bow Thayer on the field behind Kenyon's Farm in Waitsfield that "was a huge success," Mack said. Some of his other highlights from the festival included the acoustic after jam, which picked up where the scheduled musicians left off and the paper-mache puppets, which volunteers spent hours making in his garage in the weeks leading up to the festival.
This year, the vendors at Vermont Music Fest helped make it a celebration of all things local. In addition to the festival's newest vendor, The Valley's resident Phantom Food Truck, Dave Hartshorn and Amy Todisco of Hartshorn's Organic Farm in Waitsfield made vegetable tempura that "was a hit," Mack said—so much so that "Dave actually had to go out to the garden to pick more because he ran out." And Noah Schwartz of Waitsfield was the only vendor to actually sell out at the event, serving up 10 gallons of his fizzy maple lemonade in only a few hours.