Free hugs? That’s, like, so 2007.
Wander through a few competing hardcore bands, then head behind the Gallery stage and you’ll see an unexpected red and white tent that is not on any map. Get up the courage to go in, and you’ll see friendly people sharing what they have: camp stoves, boxes of ramen noodles, and the remnants of pbj. Signs ask you to not only clean up after yourself (your mom is not here, after all), but also to cook your own food. Considering that it is all free, that’s not such a bad trade.
I talked to the tent’s founder, now in her third or fourth year hosting this simple feast. I wanted to know what inspired her. Was she wanting her favorite band to stop by? Was she wanting to teach others about loving your neighbor? I asked why she went to this much work, feeding hundreds of her fellow fest-goers. She responded in true Cornerstone fashion, authentically, down to earth, and rooted far more in real faith than plastic religion. She started giving away ramen as a way for a shy person to meet people and help them out, since everybody needs to eat. Judging from the crowd happily cooking, hanging out (and, yes, I think a few were cleaning up), I think she had met her goal.
Free ramen plus authenticity apparently equals community.
I can get behind that.