OXFORD — Thousands of people from across the Northeast and beyond poured into the Nateva Festival at the Oxford County Fairgrounds on Thursday.

“If Phil Lesh can keep playing at 77, then I can make the ride to come see him,” said Jamie “Jambo” Myers of Struthers, Ohio. Myers and his friend made the 13-hour drive mainly for the headliner Further, which features former Grateful Dead musicians. Myers, 38, said he’s been chasing shows, and now festivals, since he was 16.

Milling about in a field-turned-parking-lot waiting to be let into the grounds, festival-goers seemed to be taking even the two-hour-plus wait in stride — making new friends and sharing stories.

“It’s a big chunk of what I’m coming here for, anyway,” said Patrick Sweeney of Amesbury, Mass. “It’s not so bad waiting.”

Sweeney said Nateva was his first festival this season but he will likely attend others.

Arthur Fine, 20, of Burlington, Vt. , came to the festival with 20 people and a caravan of five cars. Fine said some in his party were from North Carolina.

He said the group has a couple of favorites playing over the next three days but was mostly in it for the overall experience. “Hey, it’s Nateva; it’s Maine,” Fine said.

At 7:15 p.m., six lanes of cars and trucks were slowly filtering into the fairgrounds, even as the first bands of the festival were taking the stage. License plates from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Vermont and Maine were visible in the traffic jam.

Mike Porrello, 20, of Stony Creek, Conn ., said he and his friends came strictly for the music.

“Nateva is the premier festival for the East Coast, especially for, you know, Dead Heads or anybody who follows jam bands.”


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