MY CORNERSTONE 2004 JOURNAL

ANOTHER RUCKUS ON THE EDGE OF NOWHERE

BY: JIM SANDERS

This July, I once again made a pilgrimage to the cornfields of Illinois, where for four or five days, the cornfields become alive with music and miscellaneous ruckus and noise. Yes, it was time for the Cornerstone Festival. Every year about 20,000 people converge on a farm outside the small town of Bushnell, Illinois, over the Fourth of July weekend, for four days of alternative and hard rock Christian bands, seminars, arts, and other assorted unusual activities.

Its normally only a three and a half-hour drive for me from St. Louis, but earlier that week I was at a church retreat at Paris Landing, Tennessee, on the shores of the Kentucky Lake. The camp ended the morning before the start of the festival, so I drove all day through the back roads of Kentucky and Illinois, until I found my destination, a long line of cars lining a two-lane country road flanked with stalks of corn, which pointed the way toward the front gate of the festival.

When I finally made my way through the gate, dusk was fast approaching, so I scanned the collection of tents assembled in the field, looking for a place where I could pitch my tent. I found a small opening next to a tent large enough to house an entire boy-scout troop, so I parked my car and set up my small dome tent, hoping that I would be able to get some shade from my towering neighbor.

After setting up my modest campsite, which simply involved pitching a lounge chair outside of my tent, darkness fell. I grabbed my flashlight and walked down a long dirt road, which was lined on both sides by tents, people lounging on lounge chairs and hammocks, and signs declaring the places from which people had driven here. The dirt road led me to a beach by a lake. Upon the beach a stage was set up, the stage crammed with musicians playing guitars, tambourines, and drums. From some of the large crowd of people gathered in front of the stage, I found out the band was called Seeds, and they played laid-back 70s style music, perfect for a breezy summer evening. After hanging out here for an hour, I headed back toward my tent. Along the way I saw a friend of mine who was relaxing with some friends under a canopy, sitting on benches that appeared to have been removed from a 1970-s era passenger van. For some strange reason, my friend was calling out to any passers-by and offering free face replacement surgery. I declined to ask her qualifications for this kind of work, but I relaxed with them for a little while, until I got sleepy and wandered back to my tent.

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