Interview with Sara Bechtold of Mint Green Festival
Mint Green Music Festival (at the Salem County Fairgrounds in Woodstown, NJ, 30-40 min. outside of Philly) promises to be one of the most refreshing summer events to date with its focus on ecological sustainability and artistic expression. I recently got the chance to sit down with Sara Bechtold, the busy lady who is heading up Mint Green Festival, and she shared some background, insight, and news regarding this new fresh fest of hers on August 24-25.
LS -Hey Sara! How’s everything going so far?
SB-Oh it’s great. It’s really starting to run itself like a machine, which is awesome. It’s all coming together. Every day we feel like we make a ton of huge moves.
LS- I know going green and becoming ecologically sustainable is such a prevalent notion nowadays, but where did you guys come up with the idea to make it the main concept of Mint Green?
SB- Originally I had intended this festival to be more of a farming theme, and I really wanted to have it on a farm (which is where the farmer’s market idea came from, as well as having recycling and composting play a huge role). However, it started to evolve more towards the arts more than the farming scene.
LS-Sort of like a formless form?
SB- Right. I’m really trying to let the festival shape itself and evolve how it evolves, but there are definitely certain aspects of that original idea that shine through. That’s also where the name came from, because we wanted that to be a part of it. Actually, today’s my birthday-
LS-OH wow Happy Birthday!!
SB- Haha thank you! On that same note, I’ve been going to festivals for so long. I can remember that they were pretty small and it was kind of more about creating a community, and the whole vibe of people being on the same page. More so than it is now, because you can’t really do that when you have 20,000 people. Or rather, it’s a lot harder to do that. So we’ve been trying to take it back to how it used to be.
LS-Sort of like a localization of music festivals?
SB- Yeah exactly, and that kind of goes hand in hand because if it’s more controlled and we’re all on the same page we can all work together on the whole green aspect. It’s awesome that we’re going to be able to pull it off.
LS-Were you involved in any green efforts before MGF?
SB- As far as green efforts, not really. I went to Drexel in Philly for event planning, which is how I ended up in the Philly area. So I’ve always been involved in that aspect and I actually was involved in planning the Manayunk Arts Festival, which is a huge street fair in the Philly area. I did that for two years, as both an intern and after I graduated. That’s really where I got my start putting things together on a larger scale that also involved the arts, as opposed to a corporate
events planner or a wedding planner, which is where most people in that field gravitate towards. So I was just like “I think I’m gunna be a festival planner!” and it’s so awesome because I’ve always been going to festivals with similar lineups to MGF. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, so I’ve just sort of been working my way towards this point also being a promoter in Philly over the years. It’s all been leading up to kicking this festival off the ground.
LS-And that’s wonderful because you’re basically combining everything you love to do into one major production.
SB- Yeah it’s sort of just a compilation. I learn certain things doing certain jobs and then I sort of just pooled it all together into one big thing. This is my baby, and I want to see it grow for years to come.
LS-So was the Mint Green Arts Program something you guys started before MGF?
SB- No that was definitely something we put in place after we established the festival. We hope to put on more than just the festival, for this to be our big summer project and then to put on more, smaller things throughout the year. MGAP became its own thing because art is such a big part of the experience, almost as much as the music itself. We have a lot of people coming in: performance art, fire performances, glowhooping, and such for the indoor performances. We’re having this on fairgrounds, which is a completely blank canvas.
LS-Which makes it even more charming, because you can really put WHATEVER you want on it.
SB- It’s so true, and that’s how the arts program became such a big part because we were like “wow, we’ve got our work cut out for us, a whole huge area to cover.” One major feature of these grounds is that there are all of these pavilions already there. Some are more like barns, and some are more open air pavilions, and they are all the same color and basically all look exactly the same. We want to give them some themes and fill them in with some art and decorations to set things apart.
LS-So there’s going to be a different environment for each pavilion?
SB-Absolutely, we have some people, like Sensible Reason, coming in and sort of taking them off of our hands and taking creative control. We’ve been saying from day one, when you go to a music festival you always remember the music, the big acts that were your favorites. But when you’re looking back you almost remember the little moments more, the small experiences like that ONE art piece I saw that was so cool and I have a million pictures of in my camera. We’re all about the little things and little experiences within the bigger experience of it all.
LS-Speaking of the bigger experience, who are you most excited to see?
SB-Claude Von Stroke probably. He’s a huge DJ, and he’s kind of the wild card in our lineup; we weren’t even sure if we were going to be able to get someone like him because he doesn’t really ever play small festivals. I don’t think, to my knowledge, he’s ever even played the Philly area (NY is probably the closest). So we’re really excited to have him be a part of this. A lot of acts I’m also really excited about. Dr. Fameus I’m excited to see- I’ve been going to Camp Bisco for years and seen him a few times. Two Fresh and BoomBox, our headliners, are going to be great as well. It’s so cool to have been part of a music scene for so long and now seeing it come together in my event.
LS-It’s really a dream come true.
SB- Yeah, it really is…
LS-Okay, so I have a question for you: if you could somehow reach out to everybody attending MGF, what is one thing you would tell them to make sure to bring to enhance the space?
SB- Hmm that’s a really good one, I gotta think this through. Uhmm, probably something shiny like a disco ball. We’re going to have some pretty cool lights going on. Oh, actually, and the reason I say this is that all of our late nights are going to be indoors (we want to be respectful to our neighbors) and we have the gift of these pavilions and barns, two of which are right next to each other and are fully enclosed barns. So late night is going to be going on in a single, enclosed space in the dark, and it would be really cool to have more things that can reflect the lights and bring the barns to life.
LS-Wow that’s great. Everyone is sort of reflecting off one another, in so many ways…
SB-Haha exactly!, that was my original idea. We’re also going to have a bunch of fire performers (not indoors) to light up the nightly events, and we work with PEX (they do that side stage at Camp Bisco), so we’re going to have some of them doing some crazy stuff OUTSIDE the barn.
LS-That sounds like it’s going to be an extravagant collective lightshow! So about the name mint green, are there going to be mints available at MGF?
SB- Mint originally was in reference to our art and music and how “Fresh” it is, and then green refers to our goal of sustainability, and of leaving as small of a footprint as possible. As far as the more literal sense, we will be having a workshop with this guy named Dante. He’s an organic farmer and he’s going to be doing his workshop during the day on organic farming. His family actually owns a brew farm, and they basically grow all plants and ingredients necessary to make beer, which is pretty interesting. So he’s going to speak about organic farming in general, but also going to have examples of different types of hops and other ingredients that go into making beer, as well as herbs for sale that they grow on the farm, one being Mint. There’s also been talk of some mojito concoction come out of that. As far as our logo, we’ll have our mint leaf logo popping up all around the grounds, so there will be a definite minty presence along with the mint plants for sale from the farming workshop. It’s a really fun theme that allows us to have the words “Mint” and “Fresh” as part of our everyday lingo and sort of play around with those words.