I spent this long weekend face painting at Grizfest in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. This is the fifth year I’ve painted at the festival and it is always, um, “interesting” weather wise. We load the car with outfits for -10C to +40C… wet or dry, as we never know what will happen.
Usually there is SOME rain… one year we arrived and then sat in the car for two hours waiting for the rain to stop before setting up, and usually there are showers… but THIS YEAR?!?!?!?!?
A few years ago they hired me to face paint in Tumbler Ridge when they had the RCMP Musical Ride there – it rained SOOOOO hard that one of the Mounties slid off their horse…and landed SPLAT in the mud… the horse continued on in formation and other riders had to sort of corner him to stop so the rider could remount. And driving in the torrential rain through the mountains is always fun… zero visibility and herds of deer don’t really go together!
This year we’ve been having a heat wave… records are being broken daily for maximums. B.C. is having real problems with forest fires because of the heat.
We were keeping an eye on the weather forecast and early last week the forecast was for the weekend to be +33C… which is bad. Then, by Thursday it was supposed to be +31C on Saturday with a 30% chance of thunderstorms on Sunday.
So, off we go early Saturday morning to drive to Tumbler Ridge. Forecast now said +29C with only a 30% chance of thunderstorms. Grande Prairie was hot and clear… I had to pull over after about a mile as my table was making noise! I flipped it over and it stopped – the legs were rattling against each other! Then the styrofoam cooler with the water in it started squeaking as the lid rubbed against the base… Luckily Meatloaf Bat Out Of Hell on volume mark 13 drowned it out!
We drove first to Dawson Creek (an hour and a half drive) which was close to +30C and very muggy, but clear. Stopped at Tim’s for a coffee but the line was too long so just used the facilities and got back on the road.
Then continued onto Tumbler Ridge (another hour and a half)… once we turned south on the highway through the mountains it started to cloud up. As we gained elevation we started to drive through rain. The clouds got more and more ominous, and the rain got heavier and heavier.
We arrived in the town and checked in to get our passes and find out where they had our tent set-up. It was still spitting rain a bit, but the clouds were moving away and a bit of blue sky was appearing.
I paint each day from 1-6 p.m. The local Lions Club sponsors the face painting for the children’s activities so the face painting is free for all children under 12 years.
We parked beside our tent and made the decision NOT to use the table top display unit – it is fabric and would take weeks to dry out if it got soaked and a pain the a*s to put away in a hurry. The rain had stopped, mostly, so we wiped off the table and chairs that were there (they were wet from the rain!) and got things arranged, unloaded the kit and got set-up.
By the time we were ready it had cleared up quite nicely… but still was cloudy and a bit damp.
It was a slow start on Saturday… usually I have a line-up before I open but I guess the weather was making people have second thoughts. Painting was pretty steady though… then the sun took over and it was bloody HOT!! I had to move around the tent to stay in the shade as I was beginning to cook.
Oh my, I almost forgot to mention the MOSQUITOES!! There were swarms of them and they were HUGE… so big they had to file flight plans with NAV Canada!! If you got bitten three times you had to lay down and have a cookie and juice!!
The kids I was painting were wearing as little as possible, and were COVERED in mosquito bites… they pretty much all were scratching non-stop. I quit telling them to be still as it wasn’t helping… they all were reaching down to scratch their legs non-stop. The mosquitoes were all hiding under my table in the shade and were attacking them as I was painting.
I had covered all my exposed skin and clothing with Deep Woods Off – the pump kind. I sprayed it in my hands and rubbed over all my skin… I was also weaing a long-sleeved white shirt and my pants had drawstring cuffs so I was able to tie off my legs!
Occasionally one would land on my back and my mom would whack me without warning!!! Not really the best idea when I have a brush in my hand painting a kid’s face!
They really liked sucking Mom’s blood… even the palm of her hands are covered in welts!
Sometimes they landed on the kids’ faces while I was painting… I would pull them off with a tissue and kill them… one of the beggars was so imbedded in one kids neck I had to TUG hard to pull the bloodsucker’s nozzle out! GROSS!!
I was painting away when all of the sudden my toolbox fell over – for no reason! I had my wipes, tissue, mirror and a plastic tray containing all my OPEN powders and Fardel liquid paints sitting on top of it! They all went flying… my mom got covered in glitter powder, all the purple was gone, some of the other colours were salvaged… all the Fardel bottles were covered in it. LUCKILY the bottles were all closed or it would have been a Jackson Pollock all over the car!!
Somehow I got green and blue powder on my elbow… probably from when we sat it back up where it had been. I didn’t use the powders anymore that weekend.
There was a lull mid-afternoon, then I got slammed towards closing time… Typical. Mom got up and acted as line manager and told people the line was closed. They kept coming up and doing the usual “are you still facepainting” question as I was putting things in the car!
We never leave anything out overnight – the festival goes till the wee hours with bigger acts in the evening and the beer garden is open until 11 p.m. Any furniture left there ends up across the field! And with the weather… you may not find anything left out ever again.
We loaded up and headed over to our hotel (two nights accommodation is also provided for us). It was new – really new! The parking lot wasn’t paved yet and was full of puddles and they had booties at the door to put on over your muddy feet!
We took in my kit and our bag, stuck some bottles of water and my bag of grapes in the fridge. Then went to one of the two restaurants in the town for dinner, then back to the hotel to wash sponges and relax.
Next morning it was sunny… HOT and sunny. Looked like it would be a great day. We had our free breakfast at the hotel – a nice leisurely one. It was a hot breakfast too which was a nice surprize – make your own waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage and all the rest.
I went to get our water and grapes out of the fridge only to discover that everything was frozen… I really should learn to check the settings on hotel fridges! But, frozen grapes are actually pretty good!
We loaded up the kit and headed over to the grounds, flashed our passes at security and drove over to our tent. Only one chair had actually been moved and we saw it right away so went and got it.
We decided not to use the display unit again… although it attracts attention and shows off what I do, if it started to rain I didn’t want to have it get wet.
I also really missed having my RAV4 there… [sigh] poor baby is in the body shop as some twit side-swipped me and caused $7,000 damage! I was driving a grey Nissan Versa rental… which while it was completely capable of carrying everything did not have the impact of my wrapped RAV4!