Modern-day music festivals tend to focus on their headliners and not much else — certainly not the location that they are taking place in. Luckily for Northern California residents, a festival set in West Sacramento from Oct. 3 to 5 is turning the paradigm on its head, showcasing Sacramento as a creative community, and has been doing so for the last seven years.
TBD Fest, formerly known as Launch, began in 2007 as an art party in Sacramento’s Greens Hotel, and has dramatically expanded every year since. Michael Hargis is the founder and organizer of TBD.
“In 2012 we decided to go all out with a full-scale music festival; in 2013 we expanded to a two-day platform, and this year we are going even bigger with a three-day event,” Hargis said.
To organizer and co-founder Clay Nutting, the name change from Launch to TBD represents the evolution of the event.
“It’s to be determined; the partners we have, the people we lock arms with. Farm to fork is big now, so this year we put a significant emphasis on it — we’re integrating [festival highlights] based off of what is happening in the community,” Nutting said. “That, and there’s [already] 10,000 Launch festivals.”
The name change and first attempt at a three-day event were welcomed as a challenge by the TBD team who were already familiar with biting off more than can easily be chewed.
“It’s been a barn-raising every year, drawing on friends and family, and when it’s that small of a team, people take ownership — they helped build it. [That feeling of personal input] draws the city and community closer,” Hargis said.
TBD features international, local and musical talent spread across multiple stages which act as the backdrop of the event. In addition to music, this year’s iteration boasts rides, a cook-off, world-class yoga instruction, art, fashion, design and architectural installments.
“People come for the music and discover not only new artists; they discover what makes this region so special. Music is the backdrop for so much more,” Nutting said.
In keeping true to the festival’s ties to local phenomena this year, TBD organizers wanted to accentuate Sacramento’s farm-to-fork movement. In addition to food trucks and restaurant installations, local chefs will compete over the three days using open flame in the aptly named “Pit.” Michael Tuohy is this year’s Chef Pit organizer.
“We’re showcasing chefs on stage as if they were rockstars as well,” Tuohy said. “Open-fire cooking is a blast. We have a lineup of chefs who take turns in the Pit, two at a time. It’s loose, it’s fun, the competition is [intended to be friendly]. They have three hours in the Pit to execute 350 bites.”
The chefs create their menu, prep, cook and distribute these carefully crafted bites to the audience, connecting the stage show to those attending.
“[Open-fire cooking] is sexy and challenging,” Nutting said. “Chefs love to think about how to present something unique.”
The focus on local talent and flavors celebrates Sacramento’s unique blend of metropolitan and agricultural features.
“It’s a celebration of the NorCal lifestyle and we try to reflect what is important in this city. By expanding our platform [and the types of events that attendees can participate in], we’re engaging another part of the community,” Hargis said. “It’s a love song and a love letter to Sacramento.”
With such a fast growth, TBD looks forward to continued expansion in years to come.
“We want the Fest to become an iconic event in Sacramento to draw both people inside and outside of our region to celebrate this city,” Hargis said.
The TBD Fest kicks off this weekend in West Sacramento. Single-day and three-day tickets are available at their website, TBDfest.com.
Photos by Tori Kobayashi — The Aggie