Note: This story appears in the Sunday, June 9 newspaper on Page A1. 

NELSONVILLE — Four days, 60 acts, hundreds of organizers and thousands of attendees — it’s been quite a busy weekend at Robbins Crossing for the annual Nelsonville Music Festival at Robbins Crossing.

This weekend marked the 15th year for the Nelsonville Music Festival, featuring headlining acts of Mavis Staples, Death Cab for Cutie, Tyler Childers and The Breeders.

What began as a one-day event with around 1,000 people in attendance has evolved into four days of music that attracts thousands of people each day, with dozens of acts performing on four separate stages.

The festival is principally organized by Stuart’s Opera House in town and serves as a fundraiser to pay for the nonpofit’s local programming. Brian Koscho, a marketing director for Stuart’s Opera House and NMF, has been involved with the festival for 12 years.

As one of the 600 people who help put on this year’s event, Koscho said Friday that the local community’s support has helped keep it going for 15 years.

“We’ve always had great weekends. This year’s attendance has been great, ticket sales have been great,” Koscho said. “You always want it to grow and for more people to come so great stuff can keep happening.”

Koscho said he enjoys working this type of community-driven festival that “everyone can come to, no matter age, background, where they’re from or what they are into.”

NMF has a history of bringing together a diverse set of acts from a variety of different genres, from Merle Haggard and Randy Newman to well-known rock bands like The Flaming Lips. Beyond music, the festival has become a popular setting for local food and artisan vendors set up all around Robbins Crossing.

“(NMF) is a microcosm of this community, the creative community, local businesses, local food, beer, art,” Koscho said. “I think that people that are coming in from other places that don’t live here view it as a magical setting.”

Penni AlZayer, the owner of The Henna Faeries, has been involved with the festival for a decade as a Henna tattoo artist. Her booth this year offered henna and jagua body art. Jagua is made from a mixture of fruits originally used in South America, while henna is a mixture of crushed plant leaf mixed with purified water, lemon juice and essential oils originally from the Middle East.

“We really pride ourselves on making this a worthwhile experience,” AlZayer said. “I think the Middle East just gets terrible press and this is, in a way, my way of spreading the positives of the culture to festivals like this.”

Aside from the food, vending and main performers, NMF included a kids area, a skateboard park and art installations made by local artists and organizations such as Passion Works Studio.

The Messenger will feature more stories and photographs from the 15th Annual Nelsonville Music Festival in an upcoming edition and online at www.athensmessenger.com.

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