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Limitless Culture's : Guide to the Lovely Time Festival with Nick Feeley

March 24, 2023
Will Angiulo

What is the Lovely Time Festival you ask? How do you Build a Concrete Bowl and Throw a Music Festival in the Middle of the Woods you ask? Read below and you shall find the answers you seek.

The Lovely Time Festival is a one of a kind music, art and skateboarding festival in Turin, New York. Dozens of like minded souls spend a weekend of camping in the fields of upstate New York, skating a concrete bowl and partying while listening to rad up and coming bands play good music. Last summer we got the opportunity to get out there and enjoy it for ourselves and let's just say you don't want to miss out on it this year. Throughout the course of the weekend we got to talk to Co-Founder Nick Feeley and some of the Lovely Time crew to interview them about what goes into throwing a festival, how they got approval to build a concrete bowl behind a snow lodge in the middle of the woods and their goals for the future of the whole operation.

So when did you guys start building the bowl?

Nick : So the first festival was in 2018. That same year a punk venue in Syracuse had like two mini ramps that were back to back. one was three foot. One was four foot. And they had to pull everything out of the building. So the ramp was up for grabs and I ended up buying it off of them. We had been skating that ramp for like two years there, and we was tight. It was one of my favorite ramps I've ever skated. Next step was, you know, we're going to bring it out here. So we took it apart piece by piece, loaded into a U-Haul and then brought it out here.

How far was it from Syracuse?

Nick : Like an hour away. About an hour and 20 minutes.

And you used that as the base for the Bowl?

Nick : For the bowl. Yeah. So all the frames for the bowl were from that ramp. So we literally like encapsulated that ramp forever. I still have two of the transitions left. I have one from from each ramp just so I can continue making that ramp. Obviously, we're going to make new transitions, but I just didn't want to get rid of that. I actually just got a phone call a week before the festival from the guys or one of the guys that ran the punk warehouse. His name's Jeremiah. He sent me a text and they were saying, “you know we want to come out, skate the ramp, blah blah blah” And I was like, man, I'm just so stoked that I could encapsulate that thing forever.

So that was like the original, like, idea there. The first festival we had, we brought the ramp out here and we set them up. Instead of a spine,  We set them up side by side. The small section was like 20 feet long. And then the, the bigger section was, I think like like 15 feet long. So it was a 35 foot long mini ramp, like, you know, four foot section, three foot section and we put that out in the field over here but it was super hot. So the first festival, we didn't even get to set it up in time because it was pouring rain the night before. So I didn't want to set up Masonite out in the rain and kept everything tight, tied up and literally as the festival started, skaters are fucking pouring in and like we only have like the frame assembled. so all the sheets, all the plywood sheets, all the masonry are wrapped in tarps and literally, I kid you not like dudes came out the works like pad drills, saws. everybody just came together and put this ramp together in like a like 2 hours. it was rad!

You guys got a cool community out here.

Nick : Yeah, It was pretty cool. So that was the start of it. And then after we came back the next year and obviously everything was warped because, you know, it's just masonite & plywood and we get a ton of snow out here. I was going resurface the whole thing every single year, but I was just like, I'm going to spend thousands of dollars to do this. I might as well just pour concrete. So then I scoped out this spot the we run it at now.

And you guys started pouring in 2019?

Nick : Yeah

First 4/13/19 and second pour 4/15/19

When did you guys get access to this spot? and how?

Nick : I actually grew up with the owners of this place. They acquired it. The place went bankrupt like, maybe, like seven years ago or something like that. Okay, maybe eight years ago. I'm not sure how long. I don't remember what year it was. It was like seven or eight years ago. Place went bankrupt and then they ended up buying it. I grew up with them and I used to run events at a little ski hill just outside of Syracuse. I used to build the park there when I was younger with Nick Mir, the owner of the place here. We would build the park together and I learned a lot from him. He just gave me every opportunity to build whatever I thought was wild. And he was just always down. He's always down for the ideas.

What gave you the idea to have a festival?

Nick : So the inception idea happened when I was riding the lift over here one day, and it was like a summer day. I was just like looking out into the woods and I just kind of had, like, a quick vision as I was looking from the lift into the woods. And since it’s usually all covered in snow and there were no leaves and no branches, you really like can see straight through it. I could really see the terrain of the land. And I just was like, whoa, I could see this like, yeah, you really see, oh, you can put a stage right here. Oh, the creek runs right there. You can walk across that. I wonder how high the creek is? Maybe you could swim in it one day. And then, yeah, it was like, you know, I just had that Inception idea. And I originally I came to Nick (Mir) and I was like, “Yo, this summertime can I, like throw a birthday party in the woods over here.”  I was like, “I'll clean it up and you know, make it like a spot and just camp out with my friends and whatever.”

And he's like, Yeah, that sounds cool. Then I said, Maybe I'll get a band or two, and he's like, Yeah, that's cool. I thought, Well, maybe I'll just do like a music festival. And then I called up a couple of my friends, Drew Shoop and Charlie G, now my two other business partners in this, and we just made it happen.

Creek & Stage from Lovely Time Fest 2022

You guys just got a bunch of the homies to help build?

Nick : Yeah. Shoutout to Jon Sorber, Mike Giantassio, Steve Bart, Ian Dunshee, all of The Spot homies and all of the other homies who helped make it happen (too many to name). I mean, originally when it started out I was out here alone doing a lot of it. I'd be up here on weekends and sometimes I'd be up here alone, sometimes I'd be up here with Charlie. Sometimes Drew would come up. But most of the time, like I was out here just chopping shit down and, you know, They didn't really have the vision that I had. So it was hard to transcribe that to them. I'm not really good when it comes to passing ideas verbally. So when I would be doing something, they’d be like, oh, that's just, like, way too much. Why are you doing that? I'm like, You don't see it.

I was like, Just keep just keep going. And then finally it's starting to clean up and they're like, Oh, I get it, I get it. And then we just kept pushing and pushing. The vision really started to come together from like us three.

Hell yeah! You had no you had a vision in your mind and you got just started. From there you just built it out the way you saw fit?

Nick : Yeah, yeah. There was no, like, grand scheme in the beginning. It was just this looks like a great spot. I could put a stage, like this is a wash out area of a creek that, you know, is dry all summer. But come winter, you know, we get a look, we get like the drainage from the hill that comes out and washes out all this shale so it's just like this really awesome dance floor, you know, it's always really easy to level it out and it's really nice on your feet. So it was just like that just seemed like the spot for the stage.

Did you guys build the stage?

Nick : Yeah, I built everything. Everything here.

I really do believe it is one of those seeing is believing things. I can tell you I do a music festival but like we're so much more than a music festival and I can say that to you and you're like, “Yeah, I’m so into music and stuff” but you gotta experience it.

How's the growth been since you guys started in 2018?

Nick : We grew a lot initially. Like, uh, we started out with like maybe 65 tickets. Sold out in our first year. Our tickets were very, very cheap because obviously, you know, we didn't have all the production. But at that point, like I thought I had this vision that was like, yo, you build it and they will come. So I went all out. I built this massive fucking stage on a trailer bed that has these wings that flop out and it's like a 20 by 30 stage that you can like move around.

I still have it. We don't use it because we're not big enough for that. Whereas like in that first year I was like, you build it, they'll come, it'll be sick. Like, just keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it but the growth is slow. Yeah. And you find that out immediately, you know.  We've grown though. I mean, I think this year is a little bit smaller than I anticipated. And, you know, that it is a quick ego check, which is nice, it’s needed. And it's just like, you know, improve my marketing, improve like letting people know that we're cool. I really do believe it is one of those seeing is believing things. I can tell you I do a music festival but like we're so much more than a music festival and I can say that to you and you're like, “Yeah, I’m so into music and stuff” but you gotta experience it. It's like, what am I going to do? Just talk to you until I'm blue in the face? Like, you know you are coming or you’re not. And if you come, you come back. I got people here that have been here four years in a row and and there's a lot of them and especially my vendors, my vendors just keep coming back because they just love this weekend.

How much goes into the production of the event?

Nick : The minute that snow melts here, that is the first weekend I start working here and I work every single weekend until the festival happens in July. So it's, you know, from February or April all the way into July. And I'm here every day. I’m out here camping. I got the ramp up here now. So it's like, you know, I, I skate, I hang out, I work slow. I don't need to rush anything. And it's nice, you know? I mean, like, it is really tranquil out here. Like, obviously this is a fucking massive party, but, you know, I'm just out here.

Camping from from April to July and hanging out outside and like, you know, it's it's cool because, now there's this, like, skate community that's showing up to skate the bowl. There are people I had no idea about and like, it's just these dudes, just rippers coming literally out of the woods.  It's really, really cool to see that, you know, show up from nothing. A lot come because there's no transition around here, transition doesn't exist up here.

You guys just built the new transition sections, right? The roll ins?

Nick : Yeah, we just built. I built that corner and then the roll in. I've been getting a lot of help from John Sorber so like huge credit. I mean literally I learned so much from him. So he owns a business that like removes like fuel cells. So like, you know, someone's got a gas tank in the ground. He removes it or he puts in a new one, but he also pours a ton of concrete. So he has a lot of experience pouring like Flat Concrete for street and he had, you know, all the tools to do it.

And he actually plays in one of the bands here. He's played all four years. So when he heard I was pouring a bowl and that I was pulling the mini ramp, like from from wood to here. He wasn't there for the first pour, but then he heard and he's like, it's like, “Yo, I want to get down on that. Like, let's, let's do it right.”

And then him and I had been talking about a DIY in Syracuse that we wanted to build, and then we just ended up doing it here. I mean, not that we, not that we haven't expanded in Syracuse and done, you know, like upgrades. Yeah. But, but like we've done most of our work here. It’s 70 yards of concrete. A Little over 70 yards of concrete.

How did you guys get the funding? Self funded?

Nick : I paid for a lot of it upfront. I used a lot of my savings from the beginning of this because I believed in it. Charlie and Drew both pitched in a bunch as well and Mike G helped run a skate auction that helped us raise money for the latest expansion.

Are you making that back?

Nick : I don't think I'll make it back. I mean, maybe when the festival gets to that point, you know, it'll come that way. But it's not about that. Yeah, I'm stubborn. At the end of the day, though, it wasn't about that. It was like proof. Like, you could do this and and not only that, it's like I was learning how to pour concrete. Like there is something so gratifying about smoothing it. Like getting it so perfect. Smoothing the ground that you're going to skate on.

I learned a lot from the Honeoye Falls, guys. I went in and poured their deep end section, because I saw they did the small end and I was like, Yo, this is sick. These guys are so good. Like, I need to learn how they do this. Yeah. So I saw that they were asking for some help for their deep end and I showed up to help more with them. And, you know, the grind line guys showed up because they were pouring a park in Buffalo, or Rochester rather, and I got to watch them and see their process firsthand. I just was literally taking videos of their technique & tools they use. I took photos of everything that they were doing and I just copied it. I just was like this is it, this is it.

I watched a lot of YouTube videos. I think it's called the skate ranch on YouTube. The only YouTube video I've ever seen that actually shows you how to finish concrete. So no one on YouTube ever showed me how like how much time it actually took and how much time you had to wait and intervals and like how you do feel the concrete and it takes time to learn.

But yeah, so, me and John have been out here every single weekend for the past two years, from April to July building.

Honeyoye Falls Interview :

So what would you what advice would you have for people who are trying to build their own DIY?

Nick : Just do it. It's literally just do it. Like do it over and over and over again and watch YouTube videos. I don't know how else to say it. It's just like you literally won't understand the process until you work with the material. You know, and also at the same time, like don't chip out on rebar. That shits permanent. You want that to last. You want to skate this for longer than like two or three years. Like use rebar, use it well, cut your score.

Make sure that you control your cracks. Those are things that, you know, I didn't do. But looking back on, like I missed an opportunity to make this last ten years longer at least.

When I first went to Honeyoye falls I was like, this ain't a DIY haha. Yeah, y'all did it yourself but this is so professional, it's so smooth that like, I almost don't feel like you guys did it yourself, but yeah, I don't know how else to say it. That's why they're tight. So I definitely I learned a lot from them just just on that one day. I skated there a couple of times, and I haven't been able to be out there a bunch, but I definitely credit learning how to pour concrete by watching their technique. So when you, when I saw you were doing the interview with that and like I felt like I had to say what up.

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