Shortly after the announcement that the 2020 Borderland Festival was cancelled, tickets for the 2021 fest went on sale. They called them “Blind Faith” tickets, appealing to loyal fans to believe that not only will the festival return, but it will return with a bang.
No specific dates were set. No acts were announced. No one really even could say if the world would be back to attending concerts by then.
I didn’t care. I doubled down and bought a Blind Faith VIP ticket.
Why, you might ask?
Sure, I could have waited until things cleared up, or to ensure some of my favorite bands were on the bill. But that wouldn’t have been doing my part.
I remember that feeling when the Borderland Festival was announced in 2018. Pure joy.
It was excitement that crossed beyond the music. A legit music festival was coming to our Western New York backyard, in one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces around nonetheless – Knox Farm in East Aurora.
Then, after attending – and absolutely loving – years one and two, I wanted nothing more than for this to be an annual music tradition in our region. A music festival worthy of national recognition, that we could call our own. So making my small investment in the unknown was the least I could do.
The experiences in the first two years made it real easy to want to come back. First, the lineups put together brought in some nationally known names I knew and loved, like The Revivalists, Gov’t Mule, Oteil Burbridge + Friends, Greensky Bluegrass, Keller Williams, and the Infamous Stringdusters.
But also some lesser known names, including The Wood Brothers, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Sam Bush Band, and Shakey Graves, now own a place in my jam playlists.
That’s the beauty of the music festival. You get a mix of what you know and love, and an introduction to the new and unknown.
But there’s more to Borderland that sets this music festival apart from the others.
Borderland has a fierce commitment to sustainability and ensuring the festival leaves nothing behind – not even footprints. Their “Leave No Trace” initiative prohibits the sale of plastic anything, and has teams of people working to divert trash away from landfills and into farm fields for compost or sent away for proper recycling.
There’s also a heavy emphasis on local food, drink, artistry, artisans, and a commitment to providing an environment that is also family – and Buffalo Bills – friendly.
People bringing children can enjoy the Kidsland area, and on Sunday everyone can join a tailgate experience for Bills game viewing, complete with Bills great Steve Christie there signing autographs and enjoying the scene.
So, what else can we expect this year?
Well, needless to say the past lineups have been awesome, and year three will be no different. Despite the uncertainty for concerts, the Borderland Festival organizers have managed to pull together an amazing offering of amenities and experiences for festival goers – but also a supreme list of bands. I’m stoked that The Revivalists are coming back and headlining Saturday night, but man, does the Sunday line up pack a punch. I especially can’t wait to see Jason Isbell as well as the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong!