By Paige Gibbs
Some people zip over to the beach for a rest. Others fancy a quaint cabin in the woods. For Lori Williams, attending the Rogue Festival in Fresno’s Tower District every year is her version of a vacation.
Williams, locally known by many as the Rogue Festival’s “Super Fan,” has attended for nine years.
Her first Rogue experience was to see her son, Jacob Williams, perform when he was in high school. Two years in a row, Jacob and a group of his classmates created an act.
“After a couple years of seeing shows, I did more and more and more,” Williams says. “And now I’m totally addicted. Rogue Festival for me is like two weeks in Hawaii. It’s fun. It’s lively. It’s alive. It’s different. You can run the gamut from heart-wrenching drama to hilarity to clowns.”
And that’s just one day.
Williams typically sees 34 or 35 shows during the run of the festival. Her record was 36 performances one year.
When asked how much this “staycation” costs her, Williams wouldn’t let on. She spends a pretty penny, but thankfully, she joked, her husband is gainfully employed.
Rogue shows typically cost between $5 and $12.
In addition to purchasing tickets, Williams supports the Rogue and the performers by buying “merch.” Williams owns more than 10 Rogue T-shirts. When deciding what to wear on game day, she says she’s got it covered — literally.
In terms of her viewing strategy, Williams has it down. The first Saturday of the Rogue, Williams buys a ticket to every show at Veni Vidi Vici, a perennial venue, and eats her dinner there on the patio.
She explained that the wrought-iron patio furniture doesn’t accommodate her well for long periods, especially for one who stands at all of 4 feet 10 inches. However, Williams has found a workaround for that.
“I go with a dog bed and a little one-step stool, so my feet can touch the ground and my body will be protected.”
Editor’s note: Author Paige Gibbs is a junior print journalism major at Fresno State. To celebrate the Rogue Festival, I’m excited on The Munro Review to include work from students in my advanced editing class at the university.
Although you have to leave and stand in line again after each performance, Williams says she leaves her little setup there and returns to her seat again and again.
The printed Rogue programs with the schedule became available at the end of January, so Williams had plenty of time to start mapping out which shows she wants to attend. She stars and marks up her program next to the acts she knows she will want to see. But she leaves slots open in the second weekend and decides how to fill those slots by what piques her interest at the Rogue teaser show.
This year she has friends in five Rogue acts and family members in two, which goes to show how small the Fresno art community is.
“That happens in Fresno,” she says. “Just stand still long enough.”
Her favorite performer is Les Kurkendaal. The Los Angeles-based Rogue veteran is returning this year with his show “Walking While Black in Moscow,” which is playing at the newly updated venue The Revue.
Her favorite part of the festival is the ebb and flow of artists becoming audience members and then back again.
“You may attend an event featuring a performer that you consider amazing, and at another event, that amazing performer is sitting next to you,” she says.
She encourages everyone to give the festival a chance.
“Come see the Rogue. See some shows. See some shows. See some shows. Whatever you like, it will be there.”
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