Comfest 2012 :: Vestiges of the Free Love Era Thrive In Ohio

Moses Avalon

For those who thought Woodstock was a faded memory you need to visit Columbus Ohio at the end of June. The self-professed hippie-fest called, Comfest is a marvel that I have been attending religiously for about seven years. And yes, despite the throw-back vibe, its purpose has never been more relevant.

When I think of music and Ohio in one breath, I think of the tragedy depicted in the Crosby Stills Nash and Young song about Kent State. But there is another Ohio that many in the US are not familiar with. One that shoves back the memory of overly conservative politics gone amok in favor of some rather retro principles that we as a nation should probably reconsider: social awareness, tolerance, and benevolence.

Comfest is held in the hip Short North section of Columbus Ohio. It takes an entire year and approximately 1000 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to organize a three-day multistage music festival that incorporates almost 200 local acts, many beer stations and dozzens of craft centers. Participants are paid only with beer tokens and a t-shirt but the real dividend is to the community itself.

There is no exact count for how many people attend but it’s well into the tens of thousands, making it the largest all-volunteer music festival in United States. And yet, almost no one outside of Ohio has heard of it.

Comfest stands for many of the same philosophies that were born throughout the 1960s and many of which have been forgotten in the shadow of bank failures, massive corporate bonuses and an obesity problem that is spreading throughout the US like a virus.

Columbus is not immune to any of these issues. But at least for three days, every year, all that seems to matter– is the music. For three days local authorities look the other way as people openly smoke pot and expose themselves, (physically and emotionally) all in the name of community activism.

Pictures and say 1000 words. In here are a few of mine. (Check out this MUST SEE Video I shot of a future star kicking it to Ragge. But WARNING: turn your sound down.)


I love Comfest and the people I’ve met there. I go every year and it is my hope that next year, some of you join me.

Mo out


7 responses to “Comfest 2012 :: Vestiges of the Free Love Era Thrive In Ohio”

  1. Jef Jaisun says:

    “Free love?” Come on, bro. Just stop it. That was a media term. Just like “Summer of Love” was a media creation. We certainly never came up with those terms in Haight-Ashbury, though a few opportunists took ’em and ran with ’em. I know this first hand because I not only lived there, I covered the Haight for the Berkelely Barb for four years.

    By the time anyone got to Woodstock it was TWO YEARS AFTER the so-called “Summer of Love” had crashed, burned and been buried by the “Death of Hippie” funeral procession to Buena Vista Park. And two months after Woodstock, Altamont stuck the final fork in the Sixties. You can look it up.

    Btw, for those who believe Woodstock was the first three day “hippie” rock fest, that would be incorrect. By a full year:

    I’m happy the folks in Columbus are trying to keep the “Sixties spirit” alive, whatever they think that might be, but they might also want to do the same for their web site, which is a flower basket full of broken and outdated links.

    Peace and love.

    • admin says:

      Perhaps, but for those of us or old enough to remember the words to “Both Sides Now” but not old enough to have a righteous attitude about not actually “being there “I think Comfest is a pretty good facsimile. Maybe you should try going one year before you knock it. What do you think?

  2. martin thomas says:

    I remember free love. Rock on, wonders of the world.

  3. Thanks for spreading the Love Mo!! A fun outlet with music and community is a great antidote and contains many healing and uplifting experiences…

  4. Mark Fisher says:

    Moses, It’s always great to have you back for Comfest. WIsh we could have spent more time together. There may not be free love but there is free admission to a great music festival in a beautiful park.

  5. Timothy Reed says:

    Thanks for posting this, Moses! I used to love going to Comfest when I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, but I have not attended in several years. I’m putting it on my calendar for next year!

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