Ithaca’s residents historically care immensely about sustainable growth, environmentalism, and social justice, likely resulting from the influence of the large college population. Additionally, Ithacans value community events, such as festivals, when they can celebrate the diversity and distinct culture of the city. The GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, while taking place in nearby Trumansburg, perfectly defines and embodies this culture.
Festivals with live music are not hard to find in Ithaca, whether it’s the new Reggae fest, Porchfest, or summer concerts held on the Commons. GrassRoots surpasses all of them in both the variety of music offered, and the vast number of attendees. Bluegrass, folk, and rock are just a few of the genres represented by the seventy-plus bands performing at the venue’s four stages.
The attendees of GrassRoots wholly embrace Ithacan culture. Free-spirited and music-loving people fill GrassRoots every year, sending messages of love, peace, and happiness, most notably represented by the GrassRoots Annual Happiness Parade. Although the opening day of GrassRoots this year started with a large thunderstorm, the rain and muddy fields didn’t deter Ithacan spirit; instead, the festival-goers embraced them, danced barefoot and splashed in the huge mud puddles.
GrassRoots’ support for local businesses was shown by the large variety of food offered at the festival. Ithaca’s businesses, such as Diamond’s and Taste of Thai, were just a few among the Ithaca establishments offering food and merchandise to festival-goers. Located just several miles from Taughannock State Park, festival-goers could go to Taughannock Falls to witness their incredible beauty and take a break from the heat. Alternatively, they could take a dip in the Rabbit Run swimming hole, embracing the nature-loving aspect of Ithaca.
True to Ithaca’s liberal nature and consciousness of social justice issues, this year, women went topless, chanting “Shine a light on rape” in order to raise awareness for sexual assault. Because women tend to dress particularly liberally at music festivals, performers were sure to bring notice to the new initiative called GrassRoots Cares, which aims to create a safer environment for all. Another social justice event was Sustainability Fair held at GrassRoots, which called attention to the efforts of local businesses focused on creating a greener environment. As part of this initiative, festival-goers were sure to be seen gathering around the Renovus station, which offered free solar power at a phone charging station.
Evidently, the context of GrassRoots and the festival itself are built on Ithacan values. If you are looking to experience the essence of Ithaca, GrassRoots is without doubt the place to start.