Fibering on-Covid style
Updated: Oct 12
So, 2020 has been a little odd so far, huh?! Working in Healthcare, everyday I go to work wondering "what new process do we follow today?" Yesterday's rules don't apply today, and today's rules won't apply tomorrow. I know the rest of the country/world is doing the same within their own aspects of daily life. When my friend and fiber festival co-organizer, Kami Noyes of Ranching Tradition Fiber, set a deadline for either cancelling or moving forward with our 2020 Copper K Fiber Fest, I kept positive, but also held my breath.
You see, I had the one side of me that had to listen to the information that was presented everyday at the hospital. I saw how the numbers were starting to increase in our area. As the days counted down, I knew the possibility of cancelling was greater than ever, if not by us, then possibly by the state. And if it did proceed, I dreaded the fact that I might have to cancel my participation in this year's event as I battled between my own personal, family and professional point of views.
Luckily (and I use that word gently) two days before the festival started the governor didn't revert back a phase and just made mask wear mandatory. This made it possible for us to keep moving forward. We had come too far, had put in too much work to quit now.
You see, our festival is all outdoors in the country, so plenty of space, fresh air and sunlight. Kami and I had already spaced out vendors in all locations. We had plenty of hand sanitizers, wash stations and disinfectant on tables for people to spray. Our volunteers were always watching and cleaning. We had extra masks at the gate and in classroom tents. Walkways/aisles were 12'+ apart. Vendors were responsible for their own interactions inside their booths. We complied with all aspects of the county's health department and they approved our covid plan and festival happening.
When the weekend of July 18th-19th came around, I still had people shaking their heads and telling me that I was wrong in my push to have the festival and I'm bring Covid to their door. Everyone has a right to their opinion. I kept my mouth shut and listened to their concerns. The weight on my shoulders (personally put there) was becoming heavier. I needed this weekend as much as the next person. I needed an escape too.
I took a deep breath, a couple bottles of wine and I went into the weekend with a social experiment in mind. Can we actually still have some of our "old" life in this "new way of life", as they keep calling it? I know our festival was on a VERY small scale being in a rural area in Montana, but can we do it? Can people come together and put differences aside to enjoy a moment? To have an escape, no matter how small it might be? And then, the first people starting coming through the gate. The 2020 Copper K Fiber Festival was underway.
What are the results of my experiment you ask? Well, I am hopefully for our future. Watching people over the weekend, I'd say 95% of people had their masks on. The other 5% either took one of ours to put on, or gave distance and waited for their turn in a booth or around a vendor. In my booth, we did go through two bottles of hand sanitizer. Other vendors that I talked to, said they too were really pleased that people were so accommodating to the "new rules" and were grateful that we continued on with the festival.
Overall, I am not alone when I say, these fiber peeps were the best! The grateful out pour from customers, students, teachers and vendors was heart warming. As my friend Kami said, "people came to the festival a little nervous, not knowing what to expect. But after a few steps, the smiles started to show on their faces and you could see the stress melt away."
So there you go, my two cents. Hopefully it inspires you or at least gets you to think about a way in your own life to melt away the stress, just for a moment, and figure out a way to do what you love in this "new way of life". Hope springs eternally, right?