Craven Country Jamboree is a tale of two cities


Jerad Kozey | Contributor

 Craven is a festival that hits home on both Saskatchewan’s prairie country spirit and its undeniable drinking culture 

Jerad Kozey

The Craven Country Jamboree is Dickensian in more ways than the living conditions. It’s really a tale of two cities. One being the festive, free spirited, sinful city that is the general camping grounds, and the other the more refined, and dedicated grandstands area. The grandstands area houses the artists, families, and employees that work hard to provide the great party that is Craven Country Jamboree for themselves as well as those who brave general camping. The existence of these two distinct areas at Craven allows people from all walks of life to enjoy a good time. 

As I walked through the general camp grounds, it became obvious that the picnic table slip ‘n’ slide was a favourite pastime of nearly everyone, public nudity was openly accepted, and the long standing tradition of burning couches was alive and well.

Venturing into the general camping grounds is not for everyone, but those who do are treated to a unique experience to say the least. Inhibitions are nearly non-existent amongst the sea of people, labyrinth of trucks, trailers, and $17 Walmart tents that have been purchased regardless of their likely three-night survival limit.

What happens in the general camping grounds is highly unpredictable from night to night. When returning from the grandstands I often found that I was hit with a wave of excitement as I walked into the unknown.

“All you know is that your brain begins to hum, and you feel a tingle down your spine when craven comes around,” said one camper at the grounds. “You can feel the vibe driving into the campgrounds and you know, something wild, and possibly illegal may happen, and it’s going to involve you. The details really don’t matter out here.”

Obviously beer is in no short supply. Most campers live off a liquid diet of whiskey and Pilsner —leaving a little room for hot dogs, hamburgers, and the odd taco-in-a-bag of course. For many, the next beverage was never far out of reach. However, I noticed that the campers at the general grounds were—more often than not—very generous and weren’t put off by a request for a drink. Considering the majority of campers buy enough booze to kill themselves, you might argue that they are doing themselves a favour by sharing.

When I asked several people why they bring so much alcohol I would get a similar answer every time, “Always over prepare, never under prepare.” 

The only thing preventing the festival from being completely over thrown by legions of stumbling partiers are the committed employees alongside countless volunteers and paramedics that give hours of their time to provide everyone with a safe and fun Craven experience.

From what I saw, these people are truly the backbone of the jamboree. It was this small community that sacrificed their weekend to keep the masses of booze-fuelled fans under control and try to maintain an equilibrium between the controlled country fans and superfluous shenanigans.

Swaying the balance too far on one side would tear Craven apart. The combination of true country music fans and reckless excitement from an unruly crowd is what keeps everyone coming back. The bigger the festival gets, the bigger the show.

Craven is a festival that hits home on both Saskatchewan’s prairie country spirit and its undeniable drinking culture. With the show that increases in scope every year, the Craven Country Jamboree is becoming solidified in Saskatchewanian culture.

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