Doing an 80/35
by Kat Darling from The High Crest
Throwing these numbers around can be dizzying, especially when you are a musician. It might have even been a little surprising to be at 80/35, even for us. After a 10 year stretch for me and about 20 years of playing music in Des Moines for Aaron, we both found ourselves performing at one of the largest music festivals around – 80/35. How did we get here? We aren’t in Des Moines any more Toto!
And yet we were here, right in the heart of Des Moines, IA rocking out to some of the biggest bands, the most rockin’ hardworking locals and more music fans then I thought was even possible to fit into downtown. We were right there in the middle of this huge celebration of music in our home city. And better yet, we were playing it. Our name was on the schedule and being accessed by over 30,000 music lovin’ people.
I bet a lot of them were asking the question, who is The High Crest? I know I was asking who was on this line up and what did they sound like. This was our very first time experiencing 80/35. Summers are almost always booked full so our schedule never allowed us to line up attending 80/35. It is two days of straight up of non-stop really loud music. I loved it! Power to the music!
The major acts drew huge crowds. Wilco and Weezer were the end of the night headliners but so many more very popular groups were scheduled through out the day. You didn't know who or what you were going to see next? There was this feeling that someone just popped the lid off a container of crazy.
Two free stages allowed access to anyone and that is where The High Crest performed. Each stage had such a variety of music that sometimes you'd get music genre whiplash, but this effect also added to the fun. We also got to play Iowa Public Radio Studio One Stage. Love that crew! For an event like this you have hundreds of tireless and passionate people working hard to create this musical dream. It was an honor to be a part of this event.
Top two photos by Jeremy Kim
The picture I took right after we got done playing on the Nationwide Stage
Wilco in Des Moines, Iowa
Aaron and Abileen enjoying Wilco
Feeling good before our set on the Nationwide Stage at 80/35
16 Reasons I WILL go to the Iowa State Fair
By Kat Darling from The High Crest
1. The Music - I go to see the FREE music and every year my band, The High Crest, performs on one of the newly renovated free stages. The High Crest will perform again on Monday Aug. 17th at Noon on the Bud Light Stage. The free stages keep the entertainment running all throughout the fair. You have dancing, music, and street performers from local, regional and touring acts. I’m not a huge fan of the Grandstand selections but they always draw a crowd.
2. The Eastside – Yep, come to the fair because it is on the Eastside of Des Moines and there is nothing you can do about it. This is the time of the year when the eastside just blows up. Even the night before, families are prepping this side of town for parking, vending and more, all so you can park close and have fun at the fair. This is the best the Eastside’s got, so quit using it to slam the state fair.
3. Food On a Stick – There is a reason it is on a stick. Have you ever walked around in the 90 degree Iowa heat trying to eat anything? It isn’t easy. Food that is easy to hold for any age, in any capacity, is brilliant. We are not talking gourmet, here, just fried yummy easy to eat food.
4. Iowa Craft Beer – How about Iowa craft EVERYTHING! The Iowa State Fair is the best Iowa’s got to share with you.
5. The Heat – It’s Iowa! You are really going to let the heat deter you from enjoying the fair!? Don’t let it. There are many cool spots to stop and take a break. You are not going to see the whole fair so let these cool air-conditioned spots help your opinion of your trip. Drink lots of water and just sit back and watch the fair roll by you.
6. Free stuff - Free entertainment, free goodies for the kids, giveaways…so many companies are advertising for you at the state fair. Grab a bag and fill it up!
7. The Animals – If it smells like the fair, it must be the fair! So many Iowa families work hard all year round to represent at the State Fair. I tip my cowgirl hat to all that have dedicated themselves and wish them a great showing. Good luck on winning that Blue Ribbon/ Best of Show!
8. 4-H Projects and the Arts – What creativity!!! Competing to show at the fair isn’t easy. Over 1,000s of people of all ages compete. The winners are a great cross section of Iowa’s talent.
9. The Butter Cow – Imagine the time and passion to keep this piece of Iowa’s history alive! One woman is crafting this cow every year and she is really cool (and not just because she has to work in the walk-in cooler). We got to meet her!
10. Iowa History – Iowa’s years past are featured all over the fair. Learn a little bit about this great state of Iowa. It is fantastic!
11. The Classic Rides – I love riding down the sky glider from the top of the hill toward the midway at sunset, Des Moines sky line in the distance, lights from the midway, rocking high above the crowd, in a little moment of peace. That is my state fair moment.
12. The Volunteers and Staff – It takes a village! Even though there are 1,000s of people streaming through the gates, somehow these people remain friendly and helpful, all to make this huge event run smoothly.
13. Family and Friends – It is a time to come together for all ages. After walking through the crowds you might find yourselves apart, but there are plenty of familiar landmarks where you can reconnect.
14. The Fair Grounds – This huge area is opened and staffed all year round. It is always being renovated and updated. Its campground, during the fair, hosts 2,400 campsites (with expansion in the future) and has 500 people on their waiting list to get in. It is a true Des Moines landmark.
15. The Pain – You will come out of the state fair bearing some sort of pain: sunburn, blisters, headache, etc. You’ll be dusty and dirtier than you could’ve imagined and your skin will salty and your shirt will be wet from the sweat. But you will have done it – You survived the Iowa State Fair! And you can do it again and again for 11 days in a row.
16. Iowa State Fair Passion - You can’t help it! If you love it, you love it. And there are plenty of people who love it, so if you don’t…don’t feel bad about yourself or feel sorry for the people who love it. We know what we are getting into and that is the fun of it!
It was crazy pulling the camper that far with just enough funds to make it happen. All of this is on a wing and a prayer! Do you think luck plays a part in survival? Sometimes it sure feels that way. And I put a lot of faith into that luck - traveling that far with my family and tiny home in tow. Woah.
The inner workings of this job, the planning, the choices, the public (you) don't always get to see why. But the reason why this particular trip was scheduled was to see if we could do it. Yep! Just to see if we could. We had three gigs anchoring our schedule. We had the push off in Lincoln, NE and then just two days later, Sunfest in Sherwood,OR and then a Concert Window via the internet in Seattle, WA, and then that gig was canceled, and then changed to the Casey Family Reunion back in good ol' Massena, IA.
Traveling with a house behind you is serious business and I want to take this opportunity to tell you that Aaron Earl Short rocked it behind the wheel. "He makes that look easy." a lady said to me at Sunfest. "I know!" I exclaimed and I really mean it.
As new camper owners there was a lot of things we had to figure out. How far 8 miles per gallon is going to get us? Ouch! Is there electric? Is there water? Where are we parking the dang thing? Will it fit? We were tested right away on that last question. Will it fit? Aaron says there is only one way to tell if the camper is going to fit. The answer: If HE looks first.
Before leaving we had to get work done on the van. Two very important things weren't working, the stereo and the air conditioner. We got the radio fixed but the air conditioner, no such luck. The compressor was fixed but the line still needed repair and here is where the drama begins.
The garage ordered the kit to fix the line the week before. UPS said that it will arrive Tues. or Wed. We leave Wed. Of course the part doesn't show until right before I am cutting all hope (which is hard to do in 100 degree heat and humidity). The garage gets us in about 2pm before our gig in Lincoln at 7pm. Lincoln is about 3 hours away. The clock starts ticking. Will we get there in time?
The air gets fixed and we leave a little before 4. We know we are going to be a little late, but we know we can still make something of this show at Crescent Moon Coffee.
Thank you google maps/GPS! You help me so much!
I knew exactly where to go, but... not where to park. We were going to stay at a near by campground but because we were running so late we were in downtown Lincoln with the camper. The directions were to park in the back parking lot, probably if you have a regular sized vehicle. The pressure to just get ourselves to the gig in that tight time frame pressed and we got stuck, badly stuck between vehicles with only centimeters to spare!
Thankfully just as this happened my Aunt Jo and Uncle Lee Arellano, who live there in Lincoln, showed up. I hauled in the gear and Aaron and Uncle Lee worked on getting unstuck.
It took the guys longer than we hoped and I had to play the gig solo. Singing songs and telling stories to the small and loving crowd. Abileen even sang a couple.
Crescent Moon was great to us, thank goodness! I hope we get the opportunity to come back and do that stage justice. Thank you Crescent Moon and my Aunt Jo and Uncle Lee!
Pulling hard the next day we make it through Nebraska and far into Wyoming. We stay at an RV park and utilize the amenities.
The next day we head out of Wyoming, through Utah and Idaho all the way to the Oregon border. We stayed that night at a, yes, here it is, a Walmart. You knew it was coming, I knew it was coming - an overnight in the Walmart parking lot. When we are only going to be parked for a few hours, it works out really well. Didn't smell all that great but it was quiet and we got just enough sleep to excitedly head out in the morning about 5am.
We were in Oregon! I have to say - I love it! There is just a kind of beauty that, for me, can't be contested.
And we were were playing Sunfest that night! This is a festival that has been on our radar to play for over 10 years. It is a great community and we were so excited to get to perform our music.
Oregon music is a lot like our music, here or anywhere. It is abundant! And definitely we were received with a Portland style, "lets see what you got, Iowans". Aaron immediately got the crowd provoked with a potato growing joke. How strange it seemed to be away from home.
The crowd really responded to our music. We got smiles, thumbs up, and a few peace signs - very cool people. We'll be back next year for the big 20th anniversary, already plans are happening. We'll probably hit up that Oregon Country Fair they all were talking about too. Sounds like a crazy good time. This years Sunfest was a fun, dusty, sunny and hot hippie fest - It was a beautiful reunion of peaceful music-lovin' friends that we now consider part of our High Crest family.
It was time for us to park our home for a few days and we decided that the coast was the way to go. We headed to the Oregon Coast Hwy 101.
Again I pay homage to Google Maps/GPS. You make my wheels sing.
I spend a lot of this adventure on my tablet, searching for what I can tell to be the next stop, which I am just hoping will be cool. This is where I disclose that planning is an essential tool that I have underrated, at least by RV standards.
There is a lot of first come, first serve camping spots in State Parks along the coast - if you can get there. We snagged the last one at Beverly Beach State Park. It was ocean side, misty, cool and lovely. I was overwhelming grateful.
We actually stayed on the coast for two more nights at Seal Rock. We explored tide pools, stuck our toes in the ocean sand, played with the tide, watched the sun set over the ocean, saw whales jumping, window shopped in the local towns and loved it! We didn't take one minute for granted.
During this trip we lost a very good family friend, Jack Blythe. This was Aaron's Dad's old time partner in crime. These two performed in the duo, Pacific Quest, for many years. Later they performed with all three of John's boys, Aaron, Rob and Tony in a cover band called Generation Gap. Jack was one of Aaron's earliest and greatest influences in music. It was heartbreak in the middle of Nebraska when we learned he passed. We thought strongly of turning around and heading back, but Aaron said Jack would want him to keep going, keep playing music. In memory of Jack, Aaron sang I Shall Be Released by the side of the Pacific Ocean.
Turning and heading back home from the ocean was a struggle. We wanted to reconnect with friends up in Washington but we just couldn't afford it. Also navigating on the fly in tourist season was tough. We wiped the tears, said goodbye, and headed home. We had a Casey Family Reunion to get to.
Many of you following us on Facebook saw pictures of our daughter, Abileen, our dog Zapata and our cat, Mango. And some of you suggested that we make an Instagram page for Mango. We did and called it Mango_view. You can follow Mango on Instagram at https://instagram.com/mango_view/
We absolutely loved your feedback. Thank you to everyone who commented, shared with us, followed us...it helped us on the road so much. Thank you for being there! We will continue to try our hardest to keep the music rockin' for you.
We learned a lot, we have plenty of ware and tear on us, but that is what the journey is all about - finding your happiness. And we did it together as a family. Where next?