Campfire Festival Review

Aug 28 – 31, 2014, Lakewood, PA

written by Cliff Tyler

photos by Jan Barbacane

Imagine yourself in a dream-like festival world where live music is perfectly complemented by a summer camp style setting and enough fun activities to keep you busy for days.  Now picture yourself going to Campfire Outdoor Adventure and Music Festival next year and your dreams will come true!  In addition to three days of music, this event also has a headlining list of outdoor adventure activities included with the price of admission.


These days it seems like new festivals are starting up all of the time.  If you are going to throw a successful music event you have to bring something that your competitors don’t.  With multiple festivals to choose from almost every weekend of the spring, summer, and fall it can be tough to decide where you want to go.  Campfire should help make that decision easier and it most certainly did this past Labor Day Weekend as the inaugural event drew a nice crowd.


Lets face it, we are starting to grow up whether we want to or not, but it is always nice to hold onto a little bit of that inner child.  Campfire is located on the grounds of a summer camp for kids in rural Lakewood, Pa.  As you drive into the parking area you begin to see the permanent attractions of the camp its self.  Dry hockey rinks, basketball courts, baseball fields, and soccer fields wrap around the outer areas of the camp where the VIP tent area is located but were accessible to all patrons. Two clusters of cabins have individual common areas set up with tetherball and soccer goals.  There was a comfy little movie theater tucked conveniently between the groups of cabins.  A mess hall offered VIP’s the use of table hockey, Ping-Pong, and billiards.  All of the sports areas had the required balls.  All of the games had the required pieces.  The TV in the theater was on and tuned to ESPN.  All of these areas were unsupervised and campers were able to do as they respectfully pleased.


Located on a small lake there was also plenty of fun to be had in the water.  VIP’s had a small pool house with an indoor heated pool, a hot tub, and an outdoor pool complete with two intertwined water slides.  The lake however was stocked with fun for all. Sail boats, kayaks, and paddle boats all waited for passengers on the shore or a small floating pier.  A little beach became the lawn for the smallest of the three music stages and food and beer vendors kept the crowd nourished and willing to brave the cool water.  Quite possibly the crown jewel of Campfire’s activities, a floating inflatable obstacle course is just a short swim from shore and in full hearing range of the beach stage.  The water attractions were protected by an attentive and kind lifeguard staff and all festivarians were required to wear life vests in the lake.


Can you believe that this is only a small portion of the activities to choose from?  There was also mini golf, a skate ramp, silent Disco, kick ball, disc golf and laser tag.  An extensive yoga menu was available throughout the weekend for those that like to get stretchy.  There was a 5k, a corn hole tournament, and a slam-dunk contest.  Keeping with the summer camp theme, there was also a post card writing station, a photo scavenger hunt, a petting zoo, and a cabin-decorating contest.  With all of this to keep you busy what more could you ask for?  Oh yea!  Music!


In a large field near the entrance to the festival, the vendor area, acoustic stage, and main stage await your arrival.  Many bands talked about how excited they were to be a part of a first year festival.  The fans were just as excited to participate as well.  Always full of energy and joy the crowd danced and sang along with every group.  Delta Spirit, Charles Bradley, and Lake Street Dive all turned in killer headlining sets.  Ryan Montbleau was around for a couple of days and delivered several sets of music.  Actually, many musicians stuck around and could be seen jamming around camp.  Spirit Family Reunion is always fun, and the Acoustic Stage offered up some awesome musical collaborations throughout the weekend.  Two up and coming bands really made an impression and deserve mention.  You Me And Apollo stopped me in my tracks with their folky R&B and smooth funk.  Well written and soulfully delivered tunes will take this Colorado quintet as far as they wish to go.  Pennsylvania’s own Sprinter Cat, a funk and groove trio comprised of drums, bass, and organ laid down two great sets on Saturday.  The first on the beach, and the second a surprise show crammed into one of the cabins across camp.  All equally talented performers, this group requires no vocals as they direct the boogie with their musicianship alone.


Campfire promises to be back next year with an even more new and improved event.  Is this even possible?  What more could you ask for in a concert event?  Great Music, beautiful environment, and creative vendors make a good festival.  Flat ground camping, cabin options, caring staff and outdoor adventure make Campfire a great festival.  As 2015 approaches, make sure and keep it on your radar.  Check out their website for more information and pictures of the activities that were available.  I’ll see you and your friends at camp next year!