My first Confest was in 1996 (or it could have been 1997) just after I’d ended my first serious relationship. I returned again in early 2000 and have pretty much been to at least one Confest per year since.
At my first Confest, the site was huge and I spent entire days being lost and discovering new wonders. You had to take a punt to get to the car-free camping area. There was an electronic dance music village. There was a fire-walking workshop that took the better part of a day. There were villages for almost every alternative scene under the sun, from Pagans to Queers, from Men’s Movements to Fire-twirling. The diversity was incredible. In the years since, many other things have come and gone: some of the highlights being the silent disco, the comedy village (with nightly stand-up), a fully communal tepee village.
But in the main, Confest has been much better at getting rid of various communities than keeping them. So, at the Confest I went to last year, there was a market, a steam tent, a hot tub and some workshops (mostly around western tantra). You could walk from one end of the site to the other in about 30 minutes. People were packed in so tightly you could hardly see the forest for the cars.
This year, the new year’s Confest was cancelled. The rumour for this Easter is that even more camping restrictions will be in place. I will be going to Confest as usual but a part of me is wondering how much more can Confest shrink before it disappears away entirely?