OXFORD — Three days of hemp skirts, hula-hoops, hip harmonies and marathon jam sessions came to a close Sunday evening in Oxford. The inaugural Camp Creek Music Festival wrapped up on a wet and mellow note in the quiet western Maine mountains.
Around 1,500 attendees — as well as local businesses and even authorities — hope the laid-back festival returns again to the Oxford Fairgrounds
"We've had a blast," Sarah Nobles of Norway said. "The music has been wonderful, especially the local stuff."
Even though they live close by, Nobles and her husband camped out at the event the entire weekend with their three children, ages 9, 15 and 16. The couple agreed that the family-oriented music festival was one of their summer highlights and hopes the music returns next year.
"It'll be a family tradition as long as they do it," Nobles said as she grooved to headliner Max Creek during the jam-band's final set of the festival.
Her husband leaned over and added with a smile that "if it doesn't come back here, then we'll find Camp Creek."
So far, things look good for a return showing to Maine, according to festival organizer Frank Chandler. He said that while the venue was much smaller than last summer's Nateva Festival, which boasted a crowd of about 10,000, the atmosphere was much more communal.
"It's been very, very successful," Chandler said. "Everyone seems happy. The customers seem happy. The police, the EMT's, they all seem happy. In fact, they're bored."
After this year's Nateva event was canceled, Max Creek signed on to headline a smaller lineup of 30 bands. Chandler said that about 1,500 people attended the three-day festival.
He said a big part of the draw was Max Creek themselves, but organizers worked hard to have a strong slice of Maine bands representing a wide array of music, from soulful Rustic Overtones to hard-rocking Dead Season.
But Chandler said one thing setting the festival apart from others he's helped organize were the large numbers of families who brought their children to the concerts.
"This was a family event. As strange as that may be, as bizarre as that may sound," Chandler said.
The music festival brought the phrase "mellow" to a new level with only one arrest and one emergency call in three days. Sgt. Rickie Jack of the Oxford Police Department said Sunday afternoon that the event's single arrest actually stemmed from a domestic violence incident and had no direct relation to the festival.
Jack said local authorities were impressed with how little trouble they received from the crowd, which included a lot of families. He commended music festival fans for actually taking the time to stop and thank officers and EMT workers for being there and doing their jobs — a rarity when it comes to concert-goers and police.
"It has been a fantastic weekend. This event went so well that we'd like to see two or three more of these next year," Jack said. "We have no complaints with this at all. I think if they do this again next year, it could easily double in size."
Attendees — especially those with children — loved the small events' atmosphere.
"I'm having a lot of fun with my parents and having fun with my friends," 7-year-old Connor Pierce of Wilton said.
Pierce came Sunday with a large group that included family and friends, including John Crosby, 38, of New Portland. He said the venue offered a great chance to introduce his 8-year-old son to his first taste of live music.
"It was the first time to get our kids to a concert," Crosby said. "We heard from friends that it was a nice, relaxed place to bring our family, so we did. It's good for me because it's our kids' first concert experience, but I'm able to keep a good eye on them."