Visit to a foreign land

In the Dever Post, Times Call, and the Boulder Camera today, coverage of Heaven Fest was pretty broad. The TC said the event drew 40,000 participants, while the DP seemed to draw from the old, established info of 30,000, and the Camera showcasing many photos of HF from their website.

I visited the site…..twice. After lunch, I soaked myself in sunscreen, and took a large bottle of water to prepare myself for HF. I took my bike cause I certainly love to gulp huge draughts of dusty air. HF did not disappoint on this account.

The south parking lot was about 3/4 full with copious numbers of empty slots. The other three lots around the south lot on Fairview were empty, and were empty after my second trip ended at 9:15.

I entered, and indeed, they had a charity tent where I was charged five dollars to participate in the event. I made the long journey towards the main stages in a brutal heat. People were straggling in small groups and I found most of the larger crowds gathered around the three main stages, and at the beach area where mass baptisms were being conducted. I suspect more than a few folks getting “dunked” were trying to cool off rather than exhibiting an outward show of regeneration.

It appeared to me that most of the crowd was coming from the east lot/camping area. I certainly saw a small city on those hills, but I didn’t feel up to another slog, so satisfied my curiosity by taking photos of that area from a distance.

Vendor area – Most of the vendors were small FRY – mom and pop funnel cake operations that would easily segue on to the County Fair. There was a Subway, Abbos, and a Cick-Fil-A. Without a doubt, the Chick-Fil-A group had the largest presence. Their ad flashed all day on the jumbotron next to the main stage. At quiet intervals, their staff was on the stage praising Jesus and flinging free t-shirts and miniature Chick-Fil-A footballs to the eager crowd. “Damn, I tried to catch one, but an old lady snatched it from my grasp at the last minute’ -‘praise the Lord!”

Lest I forget, the Fight Deck Grill from the airport was also there. I spoke to the two women behind the counter about their faith, one said she was a Methodist, and seemed a bit embarrassed to be there. The other was a LifeBridge member who told me the church was located at the “Rain Stage.” The stage was a Car Toys semi truck and trailer that folded out into a small stage where a couple of bluegrass – like bands were playing. A small group was present, maybe 35 souls.

Other – There were tents all over the place providing Bible songs on CD to a techno tent with blaring music and flashing lights – mind blowing to say the least. There were other smaller groups hawking various Christian merchandise, churches, missions, help for un-wed mothers, prayer for all sorts of things “my unsaved husband beats me, oh please, pray for his salvation.” One tent had an open mike and I was sorely tempted (that damned Satan, up to his old tricks again) to do my best brother James – Blues Brothers rendition, but thought better of it as I spied two hulking security personnel looking suspiciously at me.

Finally, I made my way to the main stage where the Christian mega group was just finishing up a set that had the 2.5-3 thousand attendees whipped into a mild frenzy of tears, waving arms, a loud whispers of “Praise you Lord.” The lead singer apologized that they could not sing any more, because “it wasn’t up to them.” I said too loudly “oh sure.” This drew a lot of unwanted attention my way at which point I dissolved into the crowd. The next act was the Chick-Fil-A throw free stuff into the crowd group. After being denied my football I switched over to the next stage.

Former Channel 4 news babe Stephanie Riggs was on stage exhorting the crowd to protect our young, vulnerable girls from the ravages of this world. “I see all of you young girls out there.’ ‘You just don’t know.” “You Christian men need to protect these vulnerable girls from the ways of Satan.” In between her exaltations, she made reference on many occasions to her past. “I was a news anchor at Channel 4 but knew this wasn’t for me.” (she repeated this several times.) She was either trying to convince the crowd that she was someone of importance, trying to convince herself she made the right decision, or perhaps both.

She then launched into a familiar ploy of outside persecution of important Christians. “Look at poor Tim Tebow, the press is always after him about his beliefs.” Bull – look at today’s DP sports section and it’s Tebow ad nauseum. The supposed “persecution” is a straw man designed to make the movement a martyr.  The only ones being persecuted are secular, because we a blinded by Satan and going to Hell.

Anyway, Steph still looked pretty hot, especially in her cunningly studded shorts and long brown hair.” I could not resist shouting out to her, “comfort me sister.” I again drew stares that would cut through steel, but I didn’t worry as it was easy to escape into the crowd again.

I left with many sunburned, bleached out attendees at around 4:15. By the time I arrived back at my motorcycle the south lot was about half full with many open spots in the rows of cars. I ate clouds of dust as I sped out of the former corn field and drove around cars waiting in a line to get out on 119. I figured I would return later that evening.

But first, my wife and I went to Boulder where I fortified myself with three world class margaritas, and a meal that was less so. When we arrived home, I prepared myself for the final assault on Heaven Fest.

There were no traffic jams for me (I was able to cut through traffic on my bike with few problems.) The traffic problems I did see were created when entry on to Fairview was cut off from those heading east out of Longmont. You could only enter from the west bound traffic. Of course, this caused confusion, hence traffic began to build up.

I drove my dusty arse back to my former parking spot with no obstructions. The south lot was even more empty than when I left at 4:15. It was now 7:30. People continued to straggle out, though a few people continued to come in. My evening jaunt was pretty much uneventful. I wandered about my former haunts engaging a few people in conversation. I was also hoping to find out about the special evening group meeting I had read about, but grew weary of it all and left at 9:15. The south lot probably had less than two hundred cars in it by this time.

My observations were thus….It was a mixed bag of younger and middle aged people, mostly white, though I did see quite a few Hispanic citizens in attendance as well. Probably two dozen black people and also a few Asian people.  Most everyone was friendly, and no one bothered me. It was easy to blend in and blend out when I needed to. It was definitely a county fair atmosphere with rides and playthings for the kids, etc. The bands were pretty damn good, so in that respect, felt I got my five dollars worth even if I didn’t get into the spirit of things.

Most traffic came from the east. My causual chats with some attendees confirmed many were not from Longmont…though several were from Weld County. I didn’t see huge amounts of traffic, though I suspect much of it was heading past Longview towards the east portal.

The event was very well organized with plenty of portable crappers and watering stations scattered about. By 9:15 when I left, they were already tearing down some of the entry gates and hauling away trash. The portable ATM station was still there in the hopes that people would withdraw cash to spend at the four HF stores that sold various sorts of event trinkets.

Lots of heat, dust, and trash around the main stage. The parking areas and stage areas are now solidly packed dirt. . Were there 40,000 people there? I don’t think so, maybe 15 to 20 thousand.

The vendors were not doing a brisk business, and those who did were connected to the event – Heaven Fest stores. There was another burgeoning local mega church at HF whose presence was ubiquitous. It is called Rever, which means “to dream.” I spoke to one of the members who told me that the church was made up of three different Assemblies of God congregations that had joined together. You will see their signs posted along Ken Pratt. They are located in Industrial Circle just off of Ken Pratt and close to the Mall.

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