GREENFIELD — With hot air balloons in the sky, the smells of food and beer wafting about and the rhythmic clapping of children, the Green River Festival is much more than a concert.
It’s a community event, and it showcases all the different aspects of western Massachusetts, from the businesses — local brews, artisans and even banks — to the people — the young children, the college-aged, the middle-aged, the elderly — to, of course, the music.
Saturday was the second day of the annual Green River Festival. In its 32nd year, the festival at Greenfield Community College provided just as much of a special experience this year to those who had gone in the past.
“We’re so fortunate to have this event,” said Jackie Smith, who’s attended the festival for the last three years.
“Honestly, if there wasn’t this — which most places don’t have in the summer — most of us would be traveling somewhere else,” she added. “But it’s important that Greenfield has this great concert and festival right here.”
Saturday, the first full day of the weekend concert, saw 24 bands and musical artists play on three different stages.
As bands performed, people threw beach balls and discs, danced and sang. No particular genre dominated the day. From Deer Tick’s driving alt-rock songs and Birds of Chicago’s folk tunes to Magna Carda’s funky and mellow brand of hip-hop, all artists drew enthusiastic listeners.
Hundreds of people set up lawn chairs, picnic blankets, tables and coolers across the fields of the festival.
Pockets of people developed in front of the stages, where people hula-hooped and bounced to the beats and parents with children on their shoulders swayed back and forth.
“It’s a wonderful event; it’s a people event,” said Emily Schuler, who twirled and danced to Deer Tick with her homemade paper butterfly wings flapping on her back.
The event wasn’t just diverse in music and people, but in vendors. The Enthusiast sold its glass pipes and smoking products, while next door, New England Public Radio gave out pamphlets. There was no rhyme or reason to the vendors’ locations, and nonprofits, clothing companies and paint galleries lined up side by side.
Food, as well, was bountiful. Walking down a makeshift aisle that naturally developed between swaths of seated concert-goers, one could smell Thai food, beer, burgers and smoothies.
“It’s really great. I think mostly because everything is here,” said Melanie Sanders. “Music, people, food and everyone seems to be in a good mood.”
While the Green River Festival always aims to give people a good time, it also focuses on being environmentally conscious and sustainable.
According to event manager Abbie Duquette, the volunteers running the concert go to great lengths to leave as small of an environmental impact as possible.
The sold-out event sold steel canteens and beer cups to eliminate the usage of plastic, and also offered a “bike valet” service to encourage people to bicycle rather than drive to the festival.
Recycling and compost stations were readily available across the concert grounds, and the Parlor Room stage was solar powered.
Furthermore, this year’s festival donation is to the Jeff Martell Scholarship Fund, which will give money to students studying renewable energy and energy efficiency at Greenfield Community College.