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It’s becoming more important than ever for festivals to differentiate themselves from the others. And a killer lineup just isn’t good enough. Euphoria Fest is a totally different animal from other festivals, particularly camping ones. Why? Because in addition to an eclectic mix of musicians and not repeating headliners every year, Euphoria provides a different experience with their non-musical features. Here are my top five!

5. Hammocks.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals where just regular seating is a challenge. In nicer venues, the lawn usually isn’t so bad, but I’ve been to some that are total dust-bins with patrons who act like the ground is their trash can. Not only is this not the case with Carson Creek Ranch, but there were tons of places to sit and chill for a minute. And even better than that were the hammocks everywhere. What more could you want after long days and nights of dancing and walking than to chill out under the afternoon sun in a hammock?

4. Food Trucks.

This is an Austin festival, which means hella serious food trucks. I was going to cheap out and eat the lame snacks I brought all weekend, but once I actually saw what the offerings were, I threw down like this was my own episode of something from Food Network. My first stop was for cold brew coffee and Voodoo Momma’s in front of the Elements stage. You bet your ass I ate a bowl of Cajun potatoes and corn with sausage and crawfish. It was the shit. There was also a proper breakfast sandwich at a barbecue joint in the VIP camping, and the sloppiest mess of fat and glory at a burger truck near the silent disco. I had also accidentally eaten a half of a grilled cheese sandwich when offered a bite, and apologized because I just couldn’t stop eating it. Oh, and let me just throw this out there: macaroni and cheese steak sandwiches.

3. Yoga.

I’ve never been to a festival that integrated the fun parts of a music festival with personal development so well. This was the perfect way to start the day, in a group of people who care or want to care better for their bodies and minds. Hosted by Sanctuary Yoga from Austin, practitioners gathered to strengthen their cores and lower bodies while stretching the areas that take the most wear and tear at festivals. This was a group effort, as some exercises required finding balance while leaning on a stranger-friend. There was no spectating, and people absolutely did not have to be familiar with yoga at all. Everyone was happy to come together to just feel a little better in their bodies, clearer in their minds, and more centered in their intentions. That’s a damn unique experience, in my book.

2. Art.

This was an amazing collection of artists and vendors showing off their talents. More than just the beautiful structures in place for wayfinding and stage experience (the holographic prism arch leading to the festival entrance, the rainbow twine between trees illuminated by colorful spotlight, the neon cutout tarp above the Dragonfly stage), local artists had paintings, sculptures, tapestries and wearables. I also consider the gong experience to be art. This is where you sit with a group of people inside of a circle of gongs that the artists play. It’s an otherworldy experience in the most literal sense of the expression. The fire twirlers were also a sight to behold. I’m not going to describe it, because words won’t do justice.

And the best non-music thing: Cleanup.

Carson Creek Ranch was spotless just a few days after Euphoria Fest packed up. This was due to a huge effort by the festival organizers and local environmental heroes. Personally, with my group, we’re in the habit of picking up things and putting them in the garbage, so it was really awesome to see so many others with the same mentality. This is exactly what gives festivals the license to come back to beautiful, natural properties like Carson Creek Ranch. Can we do better along the way to not leave so much cleanup after the festival? Of course. But this was a huge glimmer of hope of what festival culture can be. “Leave no trace” isn’t a foreign concept meant for hippies and burners anymore. We all have a responsibility to the land we use, and the spotless grounds that are there at this very moment make me proud to be a part of the Euphoria tribe.

About Ash Cash Dillon

Ash Cash Dillon is a legit word nerd with a killer bass face and a love of all that is stone cold groovy. You can find her writing all over the interwebs, business world, and take-out menus via sharpie vandalism.

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