The other weekend was my birthday and the phrase “It’s a whole different world in here,” still rings in the back of my mind. It’s something you will hear time and time again when you tell someone you just met it’s your first time at the ledges. And it couldn’t be a more accurate description for this magical campground in Garrettsville, OH.
Ashley and I went for the Gratefulfest this year. It was my second time going out to “the ledges,” but Ashley had never been. I knew this was an experience that I had to share with her. This park is like no place I have ever gone before. You walk into the park for the first time and you realize there is something different going on here. There are children running around and hippies as far as the eye can see. Tiny vendor shops line what can only be described as the business district of the park right, by the entrance. A beautiful lake with a small island lays in the distance. And a thick forest littered with hundreds of tents and campgrounds.
All through the day and night the different bands of the festival play on the stage, jamming away under the “wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man.” In front of this stage is where everyone congregates. Whether it is directly in front, at one of the many vendor booths, on the beach, or one of the many picnic benches. And although there are so many different people of different backgrounds it’s amazing how little conflict you see here. Everyone is just trying to have a good time and not hider anyone else’s. Whether it be one of the hoola hoopers, young kids on bikes, or just a shirtless shoeless dancing old hippie.
No matter how great the bands that play there are, the true fun happens once the show is over each night. As we made our way back to the campground we noticed something. The woods that that morning had clearly defined landmarks of tye-dye tapestries, or brightly colored school buses, or totem polls transforms. The woods become an indistinguishable labyrinth or LED lights, glow sticks, and competing parties going on all night long. This is where you can really see the “whole new world,” in action.
Ashley and I knew only our ride that had taken us to the park and yet the individual parties that take place in the woods are the perfect venue for meeting new people. As you try and navigate the technicolor forest at night, you can’t help but to stumble into a strangers camp. Instead of being met with annoyance, you are welcomed and offered a drink and a smoke. And it is this that makes the park special. A few thousand campers come together and for a weekend community between strangers of love and admiration. There is no bad blood or ill will in the park and that’s what make it so special.
As someone who is a self-proclaimed introvert going there for the first time I was terrified of being around that many people. But honestly you don’t feel intimidated, or self-conscious. You feel like you belong almost from the beginning. It truly is a whole different world in there.
To see how you can experience the festival without breaking the bank head on over to our destination page on Nelson’s Ledges Quarry Park. Have you ever been to the park? Do you want to go? Let us know in the comments section below.