Sunday, November 13, 2005

Everywhere you want to be

Visa Quest ... it's kind of a bluegrass festival started by three guys who used to live in Fairbanks and never lived in Homer; it's 500 people and makeshift bands packed into a tiny hotel lounge and overflowing into the parking lot, foyer and even rooms; it's a congregation of old-timey musicians from Alaska and California and Pennsylvania and West Virgina who meet in Girdwood for no discernable reason and take a beer-driven bus trip all the way to Homer in November just because someone, somewhere, a decade ago or more, thought it sounded like a good idea. In short, Visa Quest is a Homer tradition.

As dancers herded the non-dancers into a neck-to-neck ring at the back of the room, I executed feeble attempts to get back to the stage so I could take photographs for the newspaper. People flailed everywhere and it was enough to make me nostalgic for the sweaty punk show mosh pits I used to swim laps in as a teenager. I must have looked pretty official with a giant Nikon around my neck, because people kept worming through the crowd to ask me questions.

One guy from Talkeetna: "What the hell is this?"

Me: "Bluegrass concert!" (duh)

Talkeetna man: "I've never been to Homer before. I'm just here to visit a friend. You guys sure know how to party here!"

Me: "Oh, this dosen't happen every weekend. It's sort of an annual event."

Talkeetna man, looking around with a blank smile: "So what the hell is this?"

And so on. It was fun, though. Geoff and I danced even though I was wearing two cameras and way too many layers for a room where temperatures easily climbed into the 90s (and I'm from Utah. I know how that feels.) This time next year? Count me in.