If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for tradition. I tend to resist change and embrace tradition. One of the reasons why I was so drawn to this school and program is because I knew the past grad students were a tight-knit group with various yearly and weekly social activities, like the weekly safety meetings.

So when I found out about the yearly spring Meatfest, which has been happening for more than a decade, I was stoked to experience my first meatfest.

When I told my family and friends that I was going to an event called Meatfest, they laughed.
“Uhh, Meatfest? But you’re a vegetarian. I don’t understand.”

Then I explained that Meatfest wasn’t just a weekend of consuming the most ridiculous themed meat-on-meat creations, but it was also a weekend of camping out in the middle of nowhere. The laugher continued.
“HAHAHAHAHAHA. You? Camping? Meat? HAHAHAHAHA.”

It’s okay though, because I had a BLAST at Meatfest.

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A few weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, a group of wild and crazy grad students headed out to the middle of nowhere and set up their own camp ground to celebrate the yearly event that is Meatfest.

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The first order of business involved pitching tents and setting up the hang out area. Remember how my family and friends laughed at the idea of me camping? Well I’ve only really been camping three times. Twice as a kid in North Carolina and once about six years ago with friends. Each of those instances involved someone else pitching the tent for me (and a camp site with running water, toilets, and electricity near by).

Thankfully S and K were kind enough to give E and I a crash course in how to pitch a tent. We set up our behemoth tent that I dubbed the Harry Potter tent. It’s the red one in the picture above. It had two separate rooms!

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After the tents were set up, we created a camp fire area and a cooking/food area.

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Meatfest is quite the event and everything was planned out with meticulous detail.

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By sundown, we had a fire blazing and food on the grill. The first night was really chill. We ate food, hung out, made s’mores, and relaxed by the campfire.

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The next day involved more of the same. For next year, I need to remember to bring a book. I was so panicked about what to bring that I forgot to bring any sort of entertainment for myself and most of Saturday morning/afternoon involved being lazy around the campfire.

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Then in the afternoon, we got word that a big band of rainstorms were approaching. We set up a whole system of tarps to cover the campfire area, the walk way between the food and fire and a cover for our latrine.

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Then the rain hit. It was your typical Florida rain, which meant it was hard and heavy.

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Thankfully, the elaborate Occupy-esque trap trails kept the hang out area dry and we were able to enjoy the afternoon, despite the rain.

Although, I probably should have realized our tents were in trouble when we had to keep “dumping” the accumulating rain from our tarp system.

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Once the rain cleared, some of the other people went out to inspect our tents. A bit later, S called out to me and broke the news that my tent had collapsed during the storm. Not only did the tent collapse, but we ended up with about six inches of water inside the tent and most of our stuff soaked.

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But not even a flooded tent could put a damper on our weekend and the fun continued for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

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When it came time to go to sleep, I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up sleeping. E and I had debated a few different options during the afternoon, but never settled on a plan.

Then the super-awesome K came and told us that she and a few other people had pitched new a tent for us to sleep in. She was able to pitch a new tent in complete darkness and even more amazingly, the tent withstood the second torrential downpour that came in the middle of the night on Saturday.

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I did discover two downsides to the weekend: My legs are covered in angry, itchy mosquito bites and I’m craving faux-meat.

All in all, Meatfest was an awesome weekend. So despite the flooded tent, the lack of showers, running water, electricity, and being surrounded by meat all weekend, I can’t wait for next year.

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