GAF 2011 was a hit, featuring cool activities, tons of sale items and fun for the kids. But what really stole the spotlight this year was the weather. As you can see in the photo above, GAF Saturday was one of the five best weather days we've had so far in 2011. This was a welcomed change from the waterlogged events of the past three years.
What did this mean for festival goers? Life was just really pleasant, and many guests spent a good portion of their non-shopping time enjoying the activities occurring up and down the Nantahala. From River's End Restaurant to the driving bridge there were paddlers enjoying SUP demos, the beginner-friendly Surf School Wave, the citizen's slalom course and the Hometown Throwdown going on at the big wave.
The scene by the river was lively, but it began to resemble a three-ring circus when the folks from Durham, NC's King BMX Show started performing aerial BMX tricks on the bridge above the wave. The folks from RideGarden also supplied a pump track for the river-left bank, adding to the activity there.
Young festival goers were in hog-heaven too, with the BMX show, live snake and raptor shows, character-based storytelling, free rock climbing and the ever-popular bouncy castle. Next year we're going to do a raffle for the amount of folks that climb the rock wall; it must have offered up 1,000+ climbs in just one and a half days.
The live music line up was excellent, and all the performers had great shows. Blue Eyed Girl, the Freighthoppers and Chalwa gave especially energetic performances this year, and the tent/stage location was probably the best we've had yet.
The overall verdict from the organizer's point of view? It was the most solid, well-oiled GAF we've had in a few years; we didn't seem to have any major hiccups at all. Perhaps that's a signal that it's time to shake things up for next year...
My favorite part of GAF? The return of the popular GAF T-shirt. You can count on that re-establishing itself as a permanent fixture of the event for years to come.
What would you like to see at GAF next year? We've already got some fresh new ideas up our GAF t-shirt sleeves.