With its founders as members of the Grateful Dead community, Gathering of the Vibes Festival in Seaside Park, Bridgeport, CT, is a festival based on the celebration of good vibes, great music, and wonderful people. 2014 marks the festival’s 19th year and 10th year at Seaside Park. This music, arts, and camping festival has hosted music legends, including all founding members of the Grateful Dead, Govt. Mule, Elvis Costello, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the Allman Brothers, James Brown, and so many more. This year’s initial lineup includes a plethora of hippie bands, such as Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, The Disco Biscuits with Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Slightly Stoopid, Ziggy Marley, Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Leftover Salmon, Rusted Root,  Dumpstaphunk, Twiddle, and EOTO… that’s just the first tier of acts the festival has released for the lineup.

Gathering of the Vibes was founded shortly after the death of Grateful Dead lead man Jerry Garcia passed in 1995. In 1996, members of the Grateful Dead community threw a memorial party for him and initially called the gathering “Deadhead Heaven – A Gathering of the Tribe”. The party was very well-received by not only members of the Dead community, but also music lovers everywhere. The event became annual, and year by year more people began to call themselves a part of the “VibeTribe”. Today, some 25,000 people attend the four day festival for the love of music, art, and good vibes.

Throughout the park, one can find tons of vendors, kids running around animatedly, incredible art exhibits and sales, greening and humanities education classes, and even some musician workshops. However, no matter where you are in Seaside Park, you can be sure to hear plenty of folk, blues, reggae, jam bands, or bluegrass music echoing throughout. Oh, and you’re going to see a lot of tie-dye and dredlocks.

One thing that this festival has got on lock is its environmental sustainability impacts. The Green Vibes initiative, born from the festival itself, is expanding its recycling program by pledging as a zero-waste event, uses renewable energies such as wind, solar, bio fuels, and hydro, and all the leftover food from vendors is donated to food banks around Connecticut. Just in 2013 alone, 12,516 lbs. of non-perishable food, hygiene goods, and clothing was donated to local food banks, 20,000 lbs. of recycling was gathered, and 200,000 cans & bottles were kept out of landfills. The Green Vibes Carbon Cutters is 500 members strong and has prevented 2 tons of CO2 from polluting the atmosphere. Carpooling is strongly encouraged, workshops are available to any attendees to learn more about how they can decrease their carbon footprint, and cell phone charging stations even use solar power. Since 1999, nearly 48,000 lbs. of food went to food banks; which provides about 26,000 individual meals over a period of 14 years. Thanks to Gathering of the Vibes’ partners, promoters, and especially the Terrapin Foundation, this festival has given back so much more to the community than other festivals in the United States. If you would like to lend your helping hand, it is very easy to make a donation to the Terrapin Foundation, visit their website, or just give them a “like” on Facebook. Internships and volunteer positions are also available by application.

For this predominantly hippie fest, attendees may arrive by land, air, or sea. In 2014, the festival will be held on July 31st – August 3rd.  Camping passes can be purchased at http://tickets.gatheringofthevibes.com/events/359500?utm_source=website&utm_medium=menuitemTickets&utm_campaign=menu. The Weekend Camping Passes include access to ALL the music, stages, beach, late-night festivities, and of course the campground itself, and right now is priced at a modest $235.00. Grab your tent, sunscreen, and smile because Gathering of the Vibes doesn’t take anything less than a good attitude.

Written By: Jaelyn Kohl