Mad Tea Party Jam 5 Review
June 16-19, 2016, Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, Artemas, PA
By Amanda Dibiaso
Photo above by B. Hockensmith Photography
If you’ve been to The Mad Tea Party Jam…read Appalachian Jamwich magazine…or spent time around Taco and Elise Olmstead, the incredible couple who started the festival and publication, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Love is an action word.”
Serving as a motto for the Olmsteads, this phrase embodies the heart and soul of all they put in to their yearly festival – heart and soul that is clearly evident to anyone who has been lucky enough to experience the magic that is The Mad Tea Party Jam.
Last year after my first experience at Mad Tea, I wrote in my Appalachian Jamwich review that I left the festival high on love, and this year was no different.
The love that is evident between Taco and Elise, who throw the festival to celebrate their wedding anniversary…the love I witnessed between others, from couples and friends to complete strangers…the love that countless people put in to the festival to make it a truly magical experience…words can’t adequately to describe it all.
And the festival’s new home, Four Quarters Farm in Artemas, PA, made the experience even better – with a forest that provided shade and beauty, a creek that provided an escape from the heat, and unique features such as the massive Circle of Standing Stones near the main stage, which gave the venue an almost Colorado-like feel, and so much more.
The venue’s already-existing qualities combined with impressive lighting, wonderland-themed entryways and decorations, and beautiful art was enough to make anyone feel like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole.
But as any festival veteran will tell you, there are always bumps along the way. For Mad Tea, that bump happened shortly after the gates opened on Thursday, when we were hit with the mother of all hail storms – I’m talking hail the size of my fist – and tornado-like winds. But the storm’s effect on the festival was short-lived. The skies cleared, the festivities began, and festival-goers were transported into a Wonderland of incredible music, awe-inspiring art and more.
When it comes to the music, there was certainly no shortage of mind-blowing performances throughout the weekend. Despite the rain delay, the first day of the festival included some of my favorite performances, including back to back sets by Twiddle featuring Jeremy Schon from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong sitting in during “Apples” and Dino Dimitrouleas (formerly of the Werks) sitting in during “Frankenfoote.”
Big Something also kicked off their 3-night appearance, which spanned the decades each night with 70s, 80s and 90s sets.
On Friday, stand out performances included Tauk, Considering the Source (playing an epic Radiohead set) and Aqueous, who missed their Thursday performance because of an issue with their equipment trailer, but made it to the venue in time to absolutely crush their late night set on Friday.
Saturday we were treated to a triple-header of Papadosio > Tauk > Papadosio that was just as magnificent as it sounds – in particular the beginning of Papadosio’s second set, when the band member’s came on stage one by one, adding to their intro in to “Ear to Ear”piece by piece.
The love…the venue…the music…all combined with workshops, live painters, hooper, aerial and fire performers, a wedding and more made The Mad Tea Party Jam 5 an amazing, unforgettable experience. And I’m not alone in this sentiment.
The happiness and love surrounding my experience has been echoed by many other festival goers, who took to Facebook to express their feelings about The Mad Tea Party Jam 5:
“Thank you to everyone for all of the LOVE and LIGHT at The Mad Tea Party Jam !!!!! Even if you are all a little mad, it’s always wonderful. <3 An extra thank you to Definition of One and BIG Something who made the weekend extra groovyyyyy!” – Ellen Hansen
“I had an absolutely amazing time with the Mad Tea Party Family! Everyone was truly welcoming and just down to earth. To all the new friends I made along the 4-day journey, cheers! I’ll defiantly will be seeing you guys next year!” – Spontaneous Jason
“There was literally a tornado with tennis ball sized hail our first day at The Mad Tea Party Jam so we didn’t get as many pictures as we had hoped due to wet and malfunctioning equipment. The experience we had during this weekend, however, transcended everything we hoped for our first MTPJ. We had an amazing time with our family, and our friends, both old and new. The venue was gorgeous, and even tramping around in the mud and rain couldn’t dampen the wonderful vibe and feeling of community. Our kids keep asking when we’re going back to ‘The Festival’ lol. Can’t wait to see you all again at MTPJ 6! Come rain or shine we’ll be ready to jump down the rabbit hole with you!” – Lindsey Brickey
“My family’s first tea jam was awesome. The VIP treatment was great. The music top notch. The facility was amazing. Already planning to return to Four Quarters Farm for more events. Definitely going to mtpj 6.” – Eric Halsey
“Another amazing year with more memories cherish. Thank you Taco Olmstead and Elise Olmstead for everything that you guys have done, you have changed my life in many ways for the better. I would like give a special thanks to four quarters for opening your arms to us this year and all of the staff that helped make everything possible. I love you all!! Happy anniversary Taco and Elise!” – Jacob Perkins
“The Mad Tea Party Jam was truly an amazing experience. Every second was filled with magic and friendship. Every single person I met was so kind and seeing literally everyone that I met at Domefest was so cool. I’m never gonna forget this past weekend. Thank you everyone that played a part in putting this incredible festival together, and thank you four quarters farm for such a beautiful venue.” – Alejandro Beach
“The Mad Tea Party Jam is such a blessing for our community. The weekend was full of laughter and sharing and breakfast and joy and jammage and kindness, the land was beautiful, the music was stellar, and I freakin love all my friends.” – Kevin O’Neill
“Had the best weekend of my life, including so many crazy beautiful funny moments. Enjoyed so many encounters, got married, and learned so much. Thank you for everyone who made my weekend so special. You will forever be in my heart <3” – Fran Chess Ka
“Best part of festivals is falling in love with my best friend Nick Thrasher all over again… Thank you Taco Olmstead and Elise Olmstead for all your hard work and making this past weekend possible. Thank you to Natalie Druce and Christian Mauricio for creating such an inviting and accepting home known as merptopia for all of us. And of course to Papadosio for another life changing musical experience filled with love and light. Until next year The Mad Tea Party Jam!” – Noor Seth