I definitely had a great time and will do it again. It was worth it for entertainment value alone. I made back my table fee, if not my hotel fee, and spent hours and hours in the hot springs relaxing and catching up with Melody on Friday and early Saturday and with Jennie on Saturday and Sunday. Very fun. Super fun. There were only a few dozen attendees for the Goddess Fest, but they were all very sweet, and bought up several copies of the two oracle decks I brought, took my business cards, etc. I got some writing and art done in the long downtimes, and got my palm read (one kid, procrastination is a problem, good heart and health lines, I have no problem making money, I'm developing common sense well, have a past sorrow to get over still) and did I mention soaking? Lots of soaking. My digits spent most of the weekend all wrinkly and raisin like and I'm very de-toxified.
But this festival had more drama than any other that I've attended.
Our keynote speaker shall henceforth be known as C.L. (Crazy Lady) to preserve her anonymity in some fashion. She is the writer of a handful of very popular books, all about health and balance and harmony with the earth and the herbal world. Very 'wise woman'-esque, and she's been doing keynote speaking for some time and is very respected. You'd expect a certain level of tolerance and professionalism from such a figure, but... ah... no.
The first night, at the planning dinner, was the first sign of trouble - she was authoritative and completely disrespectful to the other speakers. The kindest report of it that I heard (you have to understand that this festival is all about the touchy-feely type who can't really say bad things about others without bruising their auras, of course) is that she wasn't 'open to listening.' Basically, she was rude, dismissive and talked over anyone else.
But, okay... let's call her eccentric. We're talking about a group who can get weepy about killing spiders, so let's say some feelings got hurt. Sort of to be expected, I suppose.
The next day, during her morning workshop, she asks if there are questions about suchandso topic. My good friend and co-worker Jen raises her hand and asks a question about someothersomething. C.L. lays into her, saying that she doesn't know why she bothers talking if no one is going to listen, and I guess it doesn't matter what kind of program I try to put together for you people and you are unbelievably rude and how dare you and this is so insulting!
I know Jen quite well now, and she is not the kind of wilting flower that would exaggerate a story like this, nor would she be anything other than totally polite when asking her question. She looked like someone had slapped her hours later. It was apparently quite the public fit.
So, C.L. is in the dining hall for the festival lunch, and a very nice black waiter comes up and asks 'How can I help you guys?'
C.L. does not take this well. 'I find the term "guys" very offensive!' she says. 'How dare you say that?! Apologize!' (I paraphrase... I failed to witness this part but heard variations of it from a half dozen people. They all agree that it was said very loudly. But not as loudly as her next bit.)
The bemused waitstaff did apologize, and said in explanation, that he was from Texas, and that there, they called everyone 'guys.'
C.L.: 'Well, I'm from Texas, too, and we call all of you people NIGGERS.'
This was said loudly enough to silence the entire restaurant.
After the furor that followed this, she was asked by the management to apologize or leave the resort.
I was in the vending area with Melody at this point, and I witnessed a very brisk older lady come in. She was dressed like many of the new agey attendees: flowy clothing, loose gray hair, a handkerchief over her head. Unlike many of them, she was bristling with anger and followed by a flock of people saying 'C.L., you need to leave now!' 'Ma'am, you have to leave this property.' 'Ma'am! Ma'am!', 'C.L.! C.L.!'
She storms over to George (sweet guy vending across from me) to give him a noxious looking bottle of special tea. She starts to talk with him, and one of the resort people interrupts and says: 'C.L. has had a family emergency and has to leave NOW!' (I assume to help her save face, rather than explaining that she called someone an offensive word...)
C.L. takes enormous insult from this: 'That's a DAMNED LIE.' (Again, in the rafter-rattling tones.) 'They are kicking me out for no reason. I don't know if this is how you all treat people in Alaska or what, but I have been treated shockingly badly! People have come to this event to SEE ME! You can't make ME leave!'
(One fruity lady chimes in: 'Oh yes, C.L.! We came here to see you!' Many of them are trying to diffuse things and saying 'Calm down! Calm down! We can work this out!' and 'I can see where everyone is coming from!' and all kinds of 'the energy is all wrong!' until it's one big 'shakra/chi/auras/feelings' hubub.)
George - bless him - offers to take her to the airport or anything she needs. The CHS staff has already arranged a ride for C.L. and a hotel in Fairbanks until her plane leaves. C.L. gets hysterical and says she won't go to a hotel and she doesn't want their ride and these people came all this way to see HER and she won't leave and GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME and this is SHOCKING and AWFUL and she does everything short of lying down on the floor screaming and kicking, not 20 feet away from me.
So, one of the CHS staff says: 'Ma'am, you have a choice. You can leave, or we're calling the troopers.'
C.L.: 'I want you to call the troopers.'
There's more kerfuffle and much storming around and many circles of upset hippy women waving burning clumps of sage and clutching crystals and banging on balance gongs and singing 'All you need is love!' while Melody and I hold our sides and try very hard not to weep with laughter.
There is some storming in and out, and half an hour later, the troopers are there doing a VERY good job of not laughing and taking down all the various impassioned statements. C.L. claims she wasn't refusing to leave, that she was offered a choice and chose to have them call the troopers, but she never actually refused to leave. It comes out (LOUDLY) that C.L. has Aspergers, and she feels this ought to excuse any behavior she chooses to use, and she says she never called anyone a nigger, she was just trying to show how offensive the word 'guys' is by using an example and she claims she DID apologize and she has been so ill used and it's just awful the way they treat people in Alaska and there is more wringing hands and burning sage and banging of gongs and eventually she goes to stay with George's wife halfway back to town and the rest of the festival continues without her or her keynote speech, though many of the group traipse out to commune with her later in the evening.
Jennie literally fell over when I related the story to her later.
I'm sure it is all very sad and serious and terrible and there is a lesson here about tolerance and harmony and mental illness, but oh... it was so funny. The festival coordinators figure that they had the worst possible luck for any startup event and it can only get better from here.
Now, I have many emails to catch up on and some workstuff, and then I have to go inspect a septic site and pick up my car with its newly installed heated seat!