Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jansport Bonfire Sessions - my favorite freebie experience ever

I've been keeping busy this summer attending local festivals & free concerts in my area, so when I heard something called The Bonfire Sessions by Jansport was coming to Seattle, I decided to check it out. This turned out to be my favorite free thing of all time.

The premise was that the first 125 people who lined up at a specific location would be loaded onto a bus, taken to a secret spot out in the woods & treated to a free concert by The Moondoggies. A surprise bonus was promised to the first 50 people in line. There were also slight mentions of free food & drinks. This sounded like a fun adventure, so I was game.

The announcement said people could start lining up at 11am, so I got there around 9:30am, fully expecting to find a mob of people clamoring to get in line. To my surprise, no one was there. Did I have the wrong location? The wrong date? I decided to wait it out in a nearby coffee shop where I could keep an eye on things from the window. Shortly before 11 I could see a few lost souls drifting around, so I ventured over & discovered, thank goodness, that they were there to line up too.

Our small group chatted for awhile, everyone a bit surprised at the low turn out, when a truck drove up pulling a colorful Jansport trailer behind it. Yay! I was finally sensing this was for real now. Some folks from the Jansport promotion crew came over to our little group & gave us a few more details on how this was to work. We were to line up and at 6pm a bus would come & take us to the festivities. Ummm...say what?? Yep, we had to stay in line for 7 hours. In the hot sun. Yikes.

We all decided to brave it out, agreeing to take turns saving each other's places in line for bathroom & food breaks. The folks from Jansport promised to keep us entertained during our wait, which they did for the first few hours. The Jansport trailer opened up & out drove an old VW bus, brightly painted to match the trailer. It was parked in front of us & left open so we could all take turns sitting inside to cool off momentarily. Music, candy, bubbles, playing cards, sidewalk chalk & yo-yo's were provided, which brought out a lot of fun & creativity among us.

The line slowly grew by a few more people as the clock ticked on. Some were reeled in off the streets by the promoters, others showed up as news was spreading by word of mouth. The numbers jumped a bit faster when the promised bonus surprise for the first 50 people in line was revealed. Free backpacks. The promoters brought out armfuls of colorful Jansport backpacks & we were allowed to select the one we wanted. Some were simple, others had fancy laptop sleeves & insulated pockets built in. The average retail price for one of these backpacks is in the $25 range, many exceeding that price, no doubt. Now this was getting fun.

Finally two large buses showed up & our crowd of now 80 or so brave souls were beyond ready to make our way to the secret destination. After a near 30 minute ride we were let off at a small trail surrounded by trees. Turned out we were at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, a 10-acre property that serves as a recording studio for various musicians. How cool is that? We ventured into beautiful greenery, passing the studio itself, which is a large converted old barn, as we continued down through trees that surrounded us, draped with white lights, and crossed a small wooden bridge lined with luminaries, over a glimmering pond. On the other side was a bonfire and large tables spread out with all the makings for hot dogs, which even included a veggie dog option. A barrel full of sharpened sticks stood off to the side & we roasted our dogs over the fire. Another nearby table offered various drinks, including beer & several non-alcoholic choices. Up one of the trails was another option for food, gourmet burgers provided by Charlie's Bun's & Stuff. Everything was all you can eat/drink - and 100% FREE. Yep.

Up a little farther there was a large, but cozy, open grassy area. A stage was set up off to one side & there was a large bonfire area in the center of the field, surrounded by hay bundles for sitting. Outdoor games were an option for anyone that wanted to play. Bean bag toss toys & glow in the dark Jansport frisbees were sprinkled throughout the field. We all relaxed, ate, drank, laughed, played & just took it all in.

About 8:30pm or so The Moondoggies made their way to the stage and played an awesome concert. Some of us stood, some danced, others sat around the nearby bonfire, each & every one of us feeling privileged to be a part of this great & secret show. After a short intermission we gathered around the big bonfire, as The Moondoggies sat with us & played an acoustic set. It was so intimate & felt like we were hanging out with old friends. It was amazing.

The night had to come to an end, sadly, as we were loaded back onto the buses & returned to our starting point in Seattle. We had a great time, got free stuff, made unforgettable memories and some of us even made a few friends.

This was easily my favorite freebie experience, ever, by far.

I hope Jansport decides to continue the Bonfire Sessions & selects Seattle again next year. I can't wait. Additional shows are planned this year in Montreal Canada on Sept. 10, 2011 with the band Stars & in Austin, TX on September 23, 2011, the band still unannounced.

You can find more information about the Bonfire Sessions free concerts on the Jansport Unzipped Blog.

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