October 27, 2015 | by Missy Yancey

I entered the captivating world that is Fest as somewhat of a latecomer at 24 years old, with Fest 10 being my first. After some life-changing events a couple of years prior I found myself drawn to punk rock new and old. It made me happy and happy was my new thing. Luckily for me my brother, Bryne, is someone who has not only been listening to but writing about punk rock for many years. Full of knowledge on the scene, he is also what we call a “Fest Vet.” Once I shared my newfound love for all things punk with my brother, he rightfully suggested that my boyfriend and I join him for his next journey to Fest. Immediately we came to a unanimous “Fuck yes!” response and started planning our punk vacation.

Like anyone else who had never been to Fest, I really had no fucking idea what I was going to encounter in Gainesville. I did my research, but in most cases it was way more overwhelming than informative. I came to the realization that I was just going to have to go with the flow, per se, and experience its beauty in my own way. Little did I know my Fest experience was going to be completely unique to any others. A couple months after confirming my attendance and being super pumped on the whole idea of this magical weekend, I discovered that I was pregnant. That’s right, for my first Fest I was going to be the “What the fuck is she doing here?” pregnant girl. I thought about bailing out right away, but I knew I couldn’t. This is something I wanted so badly, a scene I wanted to be a part of more than anything. I was determined to take on this unknown world under any circumstances, including being in my fifth month of pregnancy.

From the moment I arrived to the Thursday night pre-Fest show at Double Down (now High Dive, nee Common Grounds) to the very last set I caught on Sunday I couldn’t believe the amount of love and respect these Festers had for each other. To my astonishment, I received exceptional treatment from everyone I encountered when expecting the complete opposite. In every venue I visited, people actually cleared paths while I waddled my way to the back for a safe viewing spot. I was waved to the front of almost every bathroom line I got in. Not one person gave me the what-the-fuck-is-she-doing-here look that I expected all weekend. Fest was everything I wanted it to be and more, and actually restored my faith in humanity. I felt high on the good vibes for weeks to follow and I couldn’t wait to go back and do it all over again. That was obviously going to have to wait though, it was time for me to take on a whole other unknown world, motherhood.


My daughter was born in February 2012, changing my whole perspective on life and changing me as a human being. Raising her is the most exciting and important thing I will ever do. In turn it takes all my time and money, but I’m cool with that because being my daughter’s mother is rewarding in ways I could have never imagined. So of course the thought of making it to Fest 11 and Fest 12 for that matter were infeasible. By the time Fest 13 buzz started circulating, though, I had learned to balance parenthood, work, and even a small social life, and so I made arrangements to make it my comeback year. Leaving my two-year-old daughter behind for five days left me with a shit ton of anxiety and guilt. I just had to tell myself what everyone else was telling me: that I deserve this little vacation and everything will be fine. Once we arrived in Gainesville, the anxiety slowly faded and I once again ended up having the best weekend of my life. With no restrictions, I was able to enjoy whole new aspects of Fest. Being able to drink cheap beers all hours of the day and night while mingling with people from all over the world was everything I could’ve asked for. Getting caught in the Paint It Black pit was a big plus, too. More importantly, I got to hang out with my hilarious brother who I don’t get to see nearly as often as I want to. My Fest comeback was perfect.

After returning home from Fest 13 I hit what I like call post-Fest depression. Yes, I was ecstatic to be home with my daughter but other than that, returning to real life made me super sad. It is nearly impossible to make friends I can relate to where I live. Being a feminist killjoy doesn’t go over too well in this little shithole town. But in came Fest, yet again, to turn everything around for me. About six months ago I was lucky enough to join a community of over 100 intersectional punk feminist Festers such as myself, known as The Pabst Smears. Not only do I now have the most loving, smart, and beautiful support group an anxious mess like me could ask for, I have created lifelong friendships that are all thanks to Fest. This small DIY music festival in little Gainesville, FL has become a cathartic release for me. I’m convinced every time I attend it will be better than the last, for that one weekend a year all is right and Fest 14 will definitely be one for the books.