Lupa and I just came back from Heartland, a pagan festival that occurs every year in Kansas. I had a very enjoyable time there. I got to co-present workshops with Lupa, as well as share the festival experience with her, and also got to meet a lot of wonderful people. I even got to reconnect with some old friends, which was a bonus as I haven't seen these people since 2005. It was quite pleasant to re-connect with them. It's definitely a festival I hope to present at again, and one I highly recommend going to, if you live near it or can easily drive to it. I enjoyed presenting the workshops a lot. We had great audiences...good questions, good comments, and a lot of interest....that and being back in the midwest...I have to admit I did feel a bit of homesickness for the midwest/East coast Festival scene. I don't really miss the midwest itself, but the festival scene out there is very dynamic and active, much more so than the festival scene in the pacific northwest. I reflected on that for a while...
Larger population, but also a population in a conservative area or this country. For many of the people who attend such events it's their only opportunity to really be in a place where they will be accepted unconditionally, whereas Portland, OR at least is so liberal that the subcultures don't really have a pressing need to gather together. That's not to say they can't get together, but in general they don't have to hide that their pagan or worry that they'll lose their job if they get outed as poly (and I say that last remark on the basis of a friend of mine who works in a corporate environment here who was told it was perfectly ok to be poly).
Now I know not all the pac NW is a liberal bastion. Go to the Oregon coast for example and you'll see a fairly conservative environment, depending on where you are on that coast, but having lived in the Midwest for a while, and now living in the PAC NW region, I still have to say that people here do have it a bit easier comparatively speaking, and consequently the cultural differences that show up are rather interesting to observe.
I remember a daughter telling her mother about she'd told kids at school about dragons and magic and her mother cautioning her not to tell the kids in school about her beliefs, because they might not understand and it could lead to some problems, and thought...in PDX, she wouldn't have to tell her kid that, more than likely. And honestly, it made me grateful for the fact that I live where I live now, but it also showed me once again why festivals, which occur in places where it's conservative, are so essential: It gives the people living there a place to be accepted and open about their beliefs, lifestyles, etc. and it can be an experience they only get for a limited time.
And then, in the end, I think it won't stop me from appreciating what I do have here, both in terms of festivals and communities I participate in...it just makes me appreciate all the more what I do have and where I live.