Every year since 1972 there has been a community festival Comfest, put on in Columbus. This is a bit hippie, bit progressive, bit community voluteerism, bit local music and artists shindig that is always well-worth going to.
And there are always plenty of bare feet.
Here’s how yesterday’s article in the Columbus Dispatch started:
There was little to worry about. There was a breeze, free music and plenty of fried food at ComFest yesterday.
No one really complained about the rules or the lines for beer or henna tattoos. Throughout Goodale Park, good-humored people sported bare feet, bare midriffs and, occasionally, bare breasts.
Go to the link to also see a short video taken at Comfest by the Dispatch.
And the article is absolutely right about good-humored people. A Comfest crowd is always about the most mellow, most accepting, and most friendly group of peole you’ll be around. You can get a lot of that from their “Statement of Principles”:
We think that people ought to work for the collective good of all people rather than for personal gain. We support cooperation and collective activity rather than competition and individual profit.
The basic necessities of life are a right and not a privilege. People have the collective right to control the conditions of their lives.
People should strive to conduct their lives in harmony with the environment.
We recognize that there are primary attitudes which divide and oppress people. These attitudes are usually shown by prejudice against people on the basis of age, class, ability, income, race, sex and sexual preference/orientation. We seek to eliminate these attitudes.
All the following photos are from my (ancient) cell phone, so they won’t be of the best quality.
This gives you a bit of the look and feel of Comfest, with these sheets? banner? (I never went to take a look) being sold by one of the vendors.
Tie-Dye everywhere, along with a bunch of other arts and crafts (like turned wood, natural soaps, T-shirts).
This next picture also gives you a feel for the atmosphere of the festival. Somebody was selling individualized hula hoops, and there were pockets of people simply enjoying them. This lady was quite proficient looping the two of them in various patterns.
The place where it is held, Goodale Park, really is barefoot-friendly. And in fact, one of the rules for Comfest emphasizes that:
3. DON’T BE A GLASSHOLE Glass containers are never allowed in the park. Broken glass is dangerous. Glass is heavy and adds to cleanup costs. Please don’t bring glass into the park.
At another location was this other barefoot-friendly sign.
You can’t see it in the photo, but from up close I’m convinced that the image of the guy is barefoot. OK, they may be picking up poo, but I’m convinced there is some extra “pee” there.
There really were about four levels of going barefoot at Comfest. First, I have to say that most people were shod (and large proportion of those were wearing sandals of some sort). At the most, maybe 3-5% of the people I saw were barefoot.
The lowest level of going barefoot was sitting on a blanket with shoes sitting nearby. A lot of people did that. It’s as if they knew they were more comfortable barefoot, but were afraid to actually use their feet in such a condition.
The second level of going barefoot was doing something that was too uncomfortable while shod in flimsy sandals. For this I’m referring to dancing at the Live Arts area of the park.
In this photo are all sorts of footwear, but you can see people who removed theirs. There are two in the front row and one in the back.
The next level of going barefoot was carrying one’s sandals. These were people who came into the park wearing footwear, but then removed them and were stuck carrying them around the rest of their time there. Why bother? But at least they were barefoot.
The fourth level of going barefoot was being truly shoeless. These were the people who must have come to the park barefoot, because I saw no sign that they had any shoes with them at all.
Here are two of them (the second is behind the first).
I’d say women outnumbered men in this regard 2 to 1.
And here’s a pair of barefooters. One looks to be carrying shoes, and the other appears to be au naturel.
When I was walking towards the park, I saw a guy coming at me, barefoot, so I had some fun:
Me: I like your footwear!
Him: Oh. Yours too.
It wasn’t all fun and games. After leaving Comfest I tried to catch a COTA bus back to where I parked my car. (Parking around Comfest is really horrible, so it is best to park quite a way aways and either bus or walk in. I’d walked in and decided to bus out.)
The bus driver would not even open his door! It looked like he also called his dispatcher, and even then wouldn’t open up. I did get his number though: Operator #3852.
The thing is, there is no rule against bare feet on the COTA buses. In fact, I’ve talked to the CEO of COTA. He’s also assured me that there is no rule (unless they suddenly enacted one since I last communicated with him). This was just plain employee ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination.
The next bus that came along saw me, started to pull over a bit, and then pulled right out again and passed right by.
Fortunately, the third bus stopped, opened its door, and let me on without the least bit of hassle. Thank you, Operator #4748, for not being a bushole.