By Michael Lello
Photos courtesy of Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival
There’s something comforting about the idea of summer camp. Cool country air, music and stories around the campfire, friendships rekindled and none of the routine day-to-day hassles that seem to make up the majority of our days.
What if you could return to that feeling as an adult?
Folks that head to the inaugural Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival will get that opportunity during the last weekend of August. The festival, in Lakewood, Pa., promises not only a lineup of Americana music stalwarts including Lake Street Dive, Delta Spirit and Langhorne Slim, but also a host of activities, like kickball, miniature golf, tennis, beach volleyball, Wiffle ball, lake obstacle courses, zip lines and more.
“Coming up to the camp driving from the city into Lakewood and passing all the trees and lakes, it just kind of gave me the inspiration to do it,” said festival founder Steve Kops, who attended camp there as a child 30 years ago. His wife now runs the camp, and his children are current attendees.
The natural beauty of the festival site is a key component to Campfire, but so is its location. While Lakewood might not be “on the map” in the minds of many potential festivalgoers, its proximity to major population centers is key — about two and half hours from New York City, 25 miles from the Bethel, N.Y., area and not far from Ithaca, Syracuse and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Music festivals have increased in number since the turn of the century, with Bonnaroo leading the boom. So that means festivals are a more viable business, but it also means there is more competition for the festivalgoer dollar. With that in mind, we asked Kops how Campfire, which is presented by Zippo, is different than its competitors.
“If you look at the mega-festivals – the Bonnaroos, the Coachellas, the Stagecoaches, the larger ones – you lose a lot of the connectivity between the artists and the attendees,” he said. “So for us, we want to make it a way more intimate festival. We max out around 5,000 to 6,500 ticket sales for year one. From the furthest part of the campgrounds to anywhere in the festival, you’re no more than a 15-20 minute walk from the stages.”
While the event is in its first year, its organizers are veterans; Ian Imhof, from The Lumineers’ management team, is Campfire’s talent buyer. The lineup – which also includes two acts familiar to Northeastern Pa. in Rogue Chimp and Pappy of Cabinet – is diverse, but there are common threads.
“I knew what I was going for. Americana, folk, bluegrass,” Kops said. “Bands like Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires or Lake Street Dive or Delta Spirit or Langhorne Slim, they all sort of play in that pocket, a mix of Americana with some folk.”
Kops explained that Campfire is made up of three components: music, adventure and escape/hospitality, which encompasses cabins, private bungalows and camping.
“What we’re creating is this adult retreat,” he said. “Although it’s an all-ages event, we’re looking for people that have been to camp or have never been to camp and now have the opportunity to come to the camp and experience all that it has to offer.”
For more information on the Campfire Outdoor Adventure & Music Festival, visit www.campfirefestival.com/.