OXFORD – It was a picture-perfect day in Oxford Saturday as music fans gathered for the second full day of the Nateva Music & Camping Festival at the Oxford Fairgrounds.

The sleepy little town buzzed with activity as campers ventured out for supplies and ticket holders began arriving for the day. Traffic flowed freely and swiftly into the parking area at the Oxford Plains Speedway, where a steady stream of school buses waited to shuttle festivalgoers to and from the festival at no charge.

“I came this morning expecting more traffic. They are doing a great job,” said Joe Niman, who attended with his girlfriend, Misty Raymond of Portland. Raymond had won the tickets on the radio, and the pair was excited to see local favorites, The Rustic Overtones perform.

The Portland-based band kicked off the festivities on “Main Stage 1” at noon with a 50-minute set featuring Dave Gutter on vocals and guitar, backed by keyboards, bass, drums and a prominent 3-piece horn section.

Baritone saxophonist Jason Ward highlighted the band’s instrumental versatility, switching to flute for a couple of songs.

The atmosphere was mellow in the crowd, with many sitting under beach umbrellas, while some tossed a Frisbee back and forth, blew bubbles or flew kites. All the while, the smell of pot and manure wafted through the air.

As the band played, the crowd started to amass and come alive, sweat glistening off their bodies as they danced to the music in the scorching sun.

“It’s a huge, huge pleasure [to play the festival]. I am extremely humbled, said Gutter after performing. “Walking by Wayne Coyne, the singer for the Flaming Lips, he said he liked our set. I’m happy all day.”

Many in the audience shared his excitement over The Flaming Lips, who were scheduled to perform on “Main Stage 1” at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.

“The Flaming Lips is one of my favorite bands,” said Erika Williams, who drove 28 hours from Michigan to be at the festival.

Williams was easy to spot in the crowd, dressed in striped green tights, a green tutu, green wig and sporting a small green water gun in honor of the festival’s conservation efforts, which include multiple recycling stations.

“I’m going green,” laughed Williams when asked about her outfit.

Nearby, Kim Lucchessi of Ipswich, MA. hula-hooped in a Hawaiian outfit to the lively R&B and reggae music of the Boston-based Ryan Montebleu band, who began their hour long set on “Main Stage 2” at 1:05 p.m.

“It’s a great line-up and great weather,” Lucchessi said.

In total, 50 bands are slated to perform by the close of the festival tonight, with big draws including Further, George Clinton and Zappa Plays Zappa scheduled for today.

Along with the music and camping, the festival boasts a variety of venders offering food and wares. Most of the products are natural and handmade.

Sarah Jones and her husband Burt traveled up from South Carolina to sell their handcrafted jewelry at a booth near the main stages. A few booths down, Bethany Hall, a vender from Putney, Vermont, has had great success selling her handmade hula-hoops.

“I’m impressed. It’s running very smoothly for the first year,” said Hall. “I have been attending festivals for 15 years and this one is very friendly.”

“It’s running very smoothly,” agrees Jim Britt of Gbritt PR. “The biggest issue has been people standing in line. So, we extended the hours of the showers and have brought in more ice.”

Organizers have also placed portable toilets strategically around the fairgrounds and are also offering free water at several locations to cut down on heat exhaustion. And incidences of injuries and health problems have been low.

“We have had minor and typical injuries,” said Shawn Cordwell, a Captain with the Oxford Fire Department. “We’ve had five transports and 30 patient contacts.”

The festival wraps up tonight with Further playing until midnight. Day passes can be purchased at the gate for $100.

April Boyle is a free-lance writer from Casco. She can be contacts at:

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