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Friday, July 8

Chompdown: A Festival Culinary Tradition Tales from Highberry Festival

Chompdown: A Festival Culinary Tradition Tales from Highberry Festival
In 2007, a group of friends and members of the Wakarusa Forums group decided to throw a potluck breakfast.  It was an opportunity to get in a healthy meal and a chance for everyone to meet in person.  Founding member, Jon “Rabbit” Cabrera, suggested: “Why not make this a way to meet each other and then feed others.”  The bands Dirtfoot and Grazgrove became involved as well, creating the environment of free food and music that is Chompdown.  They only expected a few dozen people, but over 250 people showed up.  A tradition was born.

Flash forward to Wakarusa 2012.  This was my very first music festival.  I was fresh from an almost lethal car accident and in a great deal of pain.  As I was hobbling through the trees that early Saturday morning I saw a long line and heard the first chords of Dirtfoot's set.  I wandered into line and experienced for myself the uplift of good food and good friends which I had only just met.  Then Dirtfoot began to play “Back of the Stranger” to commemorate the passing of their dear friend and Chompdown founder, Rabbit.  There was not a single dry eye in the house.
Chompdown still continues today.  The Chompdown crew has expanded their tradition to numerous festivals each year.  I got to attend my 12th one recently at the Highberry Music Festival and was so glad to see my dearest festival friends there.  There was plenty of food, with not only donations from the Chompdown crew, but also from many of those feasting on the bounty. You can't help but make good friends while sharing food and music that is for me is at the heart of festival culture.  If you see Chompdown listed on a festival's itinerary, get up and go, regardless of how late you were dancing the previous night.  You will be glad you did.

Words and photos: Grav Weldon
Edited by Greg Heffelfinger