Tucked away in the woods of NH (read: hidden) in the foothills of Blue Job Mtn, the Takedown Music + Art Festival has been inspiring the local community and gathering folks for a day of outdoor fun and a night of live entertainment for over 5 years (7 to be exact 🤔) Initially, the festival took place in Pawtuckaway State Park (hence the name) but when the rules of the park became a little overwhelming for the free spirited souls of the organizers, in proper “Live Free or Die” NH fashion they took it off grid, on private land, where anything and everything goes.
I have never been to Burning Man but after experiencing the Pawtuckaway Takedown, I’d like to think it is like a small green version of Burning Man with leaves 🌿 in the woods of New Hampshire 🌳. What sets this festival apart is not only its location (more on that in pictures later) but also how it is organized and the group of people who donate their time, energy, and craft to make it all happen!
The festival doesn’t come without a set of rules, but they only make it cooler:
1) By donation only – it allows everyone to attend and give as much as they can afford. Everything is by donation – entrance fee, food, water, coffee, tea, all art and craft vendors (even barter is possible depending on what goods you offer in exchange)
2) Off grid, on private land, a mile down a dirt road in the woods. The venue is called Rock Maple Woods and apparently hosts a number of music festivals throughout the summer. There will be no 24/7 bathroom facilities (important note for the ladies – go to the porter potty before it gets dark #firstworldproblems), bring a headlamp, the only light at night is from the tiki torches, but you can pitch your tent and not worry about a thing!
3) Carry in, carry out, leave no trace (aka TRASH) behind – you can bring your whole kitchen with you if you’d like, but you’ll have to pack it right back in your car once you are ready to leave. Empty bottles and containers included!
4) Reduce, reuse, recycle – the organizers asked everyone to bring a reusable bottle for water (water stations were provided), as well as a cup for coffee / tea (which was also provided). I found 3) and 4) super COOL and sustainable!
5) BYOB – another important item for your backpack is a bottle of booze, or 2 in my case…one for me and another one to make new friends. Cuz no one ever said “NO” to sharing a bottle of whiskey 🍾. You’ll see a lot of people walking around with a bottle of their own (not beer 😉).
6) Potluck – guests are welcomed to bring a dish / beverage to share. You know it will be a friends / family feeling at the fest when a potluck is involved!
Wolf dogs, hulky guys, southern BBQ…what else could a girl ask for…in that order 😉.
In return the 2016 Takedown Music + Art Festival offers:
– Over 10 live local bands playing at 2 different stages, ranging from bluegrass to rock and everything in between.
– Aerial arts performance accompanied by live music.
Note the guy on the BEER BOTTLES harmonica!!!
– The spooky Doctor Gasp – an incredible Halloween singer, actor, and performer – who put on a spectacular show.
– Live ET reenactment – wait till I link to some of the 3D video animations from that piece!!!
– Amazing local artists – oil, acrylic, graffiti, mixed media.
Note the little girl who is swinging on a tree branch over a rock…A reminder of how life (not only childhood) should be – silly and carefree!
– Slacklining. Outdoor ping pong. Sumo wrestling.
Although it was more fun watching people get in and out of the sumo costumes…
– Authentic Missisippi BBQ by Mr. Sippy, quite a highlight it was 🐖🍖🍗.
– Space to put up your tent and not worry about driving home after said bottle or two 🏕.
– Opportunity to go for a short hike to Blue Job Mtn and the the views from on top!
The most amazing part of the festival, however, is the fact that it is all created by volunteers who are very passionate about art and music and community but who all hold full time day jobs and do all this for free JUST for the love of it.
The Pawtuckaway Takedown group are the folks that put the festival together every year. Follow them on FB if you’d like to know when and where the festival will be happening next year. Since it is on private land, you are doomed without directions…even with them you’ll probably get lost down NH country roads. But what is a visit to NH without being lost on a dirt road without reception and with no soul in sight…