Cornerstone Festival has become a tradition for me. But it has also changed into something very different from what it started as.

Liz, Julia, Deon & Knate from Anberlin and me in 2006


When I first attended in 2006 with my two best friends we made an effort to always be at shows, we were practically never at our campsite or having downtime. I think I bought at least 10 t-shirts and 10 cd’s that year. It was all about the music back then.

Me, Stephen from Anberlin and Alice in 2007

The RKMB in 2008


The next few years my dad and sister came along and we camped with some family friends and I met up with a few new internet friends. Still, my schedule was full of bands that I currently loved. In 2009 I was forced to miss out on the festival as my family traveled Europe for a month. Oh well.

The RKMB in 2010


Back in action in 2010 I camped with a group of people I will refer to only as The RKMB. That year I made a lot of great new friends, went into town for lunch almost every single day and also went to quite a few seminars. I didn’t see as many bands in 2010, but there was nothing disappointing about that year at all. Also, I met some people from Pick a Pocket who then told me about the YWAM school that I will be attending this year. Win!

[no 2011 picture available yet!]

This year I didn’t make it to the fest until Friday night and had to leave Sunday night so my stay was much shorter than usual. (I almost didn’t think I would be able to go because money is so tight saving for YWAM). I camped with The RKMB yet again and met even more fabulous people, but I could just tell there was something different about this year. There weren’t very many bands I was interested in seeing. Instead of listening to almost entirely bands from the Tooth and Nail label, I now listen to Mumford and Sons, Cloud Cult, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga. Those just aren’t Cornerstone bands you see… I assumed that my tastes were just diverging and Cornerstone would keep on thriving in its own direction. Still, I felt like there was an overall lack on energy everywhere I went on the grounds. Finally I heard someone say that unlike past years when the festival averages around 20,000 people, there were only 5,000 this year (if someone can give me a source to confirm this it would be great!).

I did manage to discover one new artist (not new to music, just new to me) on Sunday night. It was after Brooke Waggoner (download her cd for free here!!) that they made an announcement and opened discussion about Cornerstone’s future. Okay, so they might have made the announcement at other times, I just didn’t go to very many shows all weekend (maybe 4 total?). They said that this year they were unable to break even on the festival and they had lost so much money that it is extremely unlikely that Cornerstone will look the same next year. It might be somewhere different, more accessible, or it might just be much more intimate and smaller. For some reason I can’t explain, this news has been hard for me. I guess Cornerstone has just always meant so much to me. Even more than I realized. The diversity of the people there that you just don’t see anywhere else… One day this past year I was feeling out of place at school and I took a moment to try to think about where I’ve felt the most at home. Its a huge leap since I only spend a week there every year, but Cornerstone was what came to mind.

Saying goodbye to old traditions is… weird. And to make it even worse, its not like I will be able to go back and revisit this old tradition again. It just won’t be there, or the same.

Here is a post from the official Cornerstone Blog titled “This is Not the End”. Their title is pretty much calling out my pessimism, huh?