When it comes to providing sustenance, music festivals really have all the power to offer whatever they want inside the festival grounds. High profit-margin french bread pizzas, tacos, veggie burritos, smoothies, light beers, $4 bottles of water to which you are surely not getting the caps (this is always mind-blowing), hoppy beers and plastic bottles of wine are pretty common in the world of vending, but of all the businesses vying to sell these ever-present, non-commodity items, how do they decide to whom they grant the ability?
Sure, there were some classic operations running at Lockn', but personally, all the purchases I made inside the music grounds were from the Local Tent. Centered smack in the middle of the fest's internal shakedown street, among the various food, drink, and clothing tents, and offering huge "LOCAL" signage, you couldn't miss it, and I think that was really, really awesome. When a fest goes above and beyond to include local commerce, it says something about their thankfulness to the surrounding community allowing us to rage the grass off their fields and deplete so many resources from their hometown. As the "interlocking music festival," it was no surprise that Lockn' had considered the interconnectedness of the economy and offerings of the surrounding geography.
Offering sundries hailing from the nearby city of Charlottesville, VA, about 40 mi from Arrington, VA, site of Lockn', the Local Tent offered beers, foods, wines, snacks, and some of the friendliest service I've ever experienced at a festival. Illuminated by white holiday lights at night time, and by the happiness of everyone at this utopian gathering by day, it was something I hope to see more and more as festivals sprout up in small towns. It's the least we can all do to say, "thanks," while getting our fresh-azz nourishment on to boot. Plus, for a dollar more ($8 vs. $7), why wouldn't you drink Starr Hill beers instead of one-step-from-pee-drips Bud Light? I mean, it's hardly a contest.
One morning, heading in early around 11 A.M. when the gates opened to get a good spot for Pegi Young & The Survivors, I noticed a group of people carrying supplies, flanking a man balancing a huge bag of fresh-looking bread, all cheerful, and ready to start their day. It reminded me of the scene in Beauty and the Beast, when Belle sees the baker trying to balance a huge stack of bread-loaves on his way down the main street of their Little Town. The bread man turned out to be Harrison Keevil, one-half of the husband-and-wife team running Brookville Restaurant, out of Charlottesville, VA. I got a chance to chat with his other half, Jennifer Keevil, about their restaurant, and how they came to vend at Lockn' Festival. Co-owner and front-of-house manager, here's what she had to say.
Q: This is a great setup you guys have here. What was the process of getting involved at Lockn'? Did they approach you, or did you have to apply?
A: Well, everyone is from Charlottesville (VA). Ben Thompson from The Rock Barn knew us (in the Local Tent) and invited us to be a part of it. It's our first time doing something like this and we love it.
Q: Well that's really cool, and shows how connected everyone here is in the local food community.
A: Yup. Actually 95% of our ingredients at Brookville are from within a 100-mile radius of Charlottesville.
Q: Wow! That is really impressive. And how do you know how much food to make to limit waste, but still run your business effectively at an event like this?
A: It's honestly just a guesstimate. Harrison just guessed based on numbers, so we're seeing how it plays out.
Q: And has it been on point so far?
A: Well, it was slow yesterday (Thursday, day 1), but today has been on pace and lots of fun. It may even be busier than we imagined. We didn't know what to expect, so we're seeing how it plays out.
Q: That is to be expected as everyone gets set up on the first night. Did everyone in the Local Tent already know each other? Or how did that work? Maybe it helped to talk to people who have done this before for food numbers?
A: Mark Thompson from Starr Hill organized the Local Tent to include Charlottesville businesses. We were really honored to be a part of it, and hope we can do this again next year. And honestly, we just did a guesstimate, because this is the first year any of us have done this, being the first year of Lockn'. But, ya, we hope to keep doing it. It's been great.
Q: Cool, that is refreshing that relationships and word-of-mouth can still connect quality people. What is something special about your food that you'd like people to know about?
A: Well, we are a family run business, with almost- entirely locally-sourced food, for one, so that is pretty special (Jennifer says this as she holds their baby girl, bubbling with joy, and reaching for her mother's smile). Another thing is that we go "snout-to-tail," and really avoid any waste wherever we can. We want to use everything and leave a small footprint doing so.
Q: "Snout-to-Tail," I like that. Is that a phrase you have come to utilize across the business, or is that strictly an ideal applied to the pork you use?
A: No, definitely everything. We really utilize everything we can as long as it's healthy and fresh to do so.
Q: Awesome. Well, this is a music festival after all. Who are you most excited to see at the fest?
A: Harrison just loves Warren Haynes. He is a huge fan, and I know he's been excited to see him.
Q: Well thanks for your time, Jennifer, is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: Just come see us if you're in Charlottesville! We're in the Historic Downtown Mall. Try the bologna sandwich, I think you'll be surprised how much you like it.
I did, and it was delicious. I normally hate bologna, so she was definitely right. High quality, local ingredients make all the difference. Here's to hoping more festivals offer Local Tents so we can all give back to one another. Thanks to Jennifer & Harrison Keevil, Brookville Restaurant, and to The Thompson's for organizing the Local Tent; such a great aspect of such a great festival.
Brookville Restaurant is located at 225 W Main St. (2nd Floor), Charlottesville Va 22902. (434) 202-2791
Hours of Operation: Lunch Tues-Sat 11:30-2:30 || Dinner Tu-Th 5:00-9:00, Fri-Sat 5:00-10:00 || Brunch Sunday 11:00-2:00