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Its been 10 years given that the last optimal chums Day Weekend in Richmond, Virginia and twenty years on account that its founders first got here up with the idea of visiting a local water park to have fun the end of summer time. What they didnt know at the time become that this talk over with would develop into a 4-day fun-filled weekend that has long past down in background as one of the most craziest fests of all time.?

recently, BFD alumni Shelley Callahan, Anna Virginia, and Erin Briggs sat down with Richmond photographer and musician Randy Blythe to talk about the starting of optimum friends Day, how it advanced, and the upcoming top-rated pals Day Yearbook, set to be released on June twenty sixth, 2021.?

Shelley: So, do we want to hear the actual story first or do we want to hear the fantasy?

Anna: I want to hear the fable first. I mean, the lore will doubtless be funnier.?

Randy: neatly, its not too extensive, and forgive me if i am incorrect, it turned into a long time ago. But i thought it was Tony [Foresta] and perhaps you [motions to Shelley] and your sister [Erin] went to Hadads [Lake] sooner or later and bought wasted, and called it superior pals Day.

Anna: simply swap Tony for me, thats the primary greatest friends Day. [laughs]

Shelley: Yeah, however there is a bit extra to it C it become a bit extra structured and deliberate.?

Anna: sure, one of my roommates labored for a company that had a piece birthday party there

Randy: so thats how you discovered that Hadads existed?

Anna: precisely! We went and my first notion became, We need to convey greater people lower back right here! So planning the first optimal friends Day became lots greater about bringing americans to Hadads itself. I remember especially being at 821 Caf in the summer of 2001 with Shelley and talking about desirous to have an conclusion of the summer season party at Hadads and it turned into a very good time because Shelley and Erins birthday is at the end of August anyway.

Shelley: completely C I be aware that i assumed the thought become high-quality as a result of i used to be in school on the time and despite the fact that Anna wasnt, our age community had this all-encompassing feeling that the summer time was over when VCU started again each Fall.

Randy: That feeling that you just desired to do whatever thing earlier than the invasion begins once more, as a result of local summer is over when VCU students return.

Anna: appropriate! Whereas the city nevertheless felt love it become ours. So we deliberate this in a time before cell phones, earlier than social media, and we made handbills and folded them up and in a single day went to all our friends homes and left them with invites to the first gold standard chums Day.?

Randy: what number of of these invitations were made??

Anna: Hmmm, well lower back then, every person sort of lived within the equal condo. [laughs]?

Shelley: less than 40 americans showed up to the primary BFD however possibly we went to eight properties to drop off flyers on the grounds that most of our friends lived together C and i be aware pondering that day that I couldnt trust forty individuals confirmed up!?

Randy: massive rager! [laughs]

Anna: And the proven fact that that many individuals went the entire way to Varina C at the time that felt like going out of town to do something.

Shelley: absolutely! That changed into back once we generally most effective rode our bikes in all places C and when individuals did go somewhere in a car, all and sundry obtained in the same vehicle and there became very doubtless somebody using in the trunk. [laughs]

Anna: I bear in mind that it rained that morning and the ordinary public who might otherwise have come to Hadads on a nice day didnt reveal up so when we arrived in the early afternoon we had the vicinity to ourselves and it made turning that corner into the park for the first time that an awful lot greater magical for all and sundry.?

Randy: smartly, you guys had been basically pioneers of Hadads. I imply, of route, on properly of the most advantageous chums Day line-ups,?later there changed into GWAR-B-Q and that additionally introduced massive countrywide acts to play in Richmond.?

Shelley: Yeah, actually, and that i attribute lots of it to establishing a extremely close relationship with the owner, Ron Hadad, that very first year. He turned into the best motive we have been capable of come returned every year, and he inspired us to get larger C to employ out the entire water park. We went from forty the primary yr to a hundred thirty in exactly twelve months. ?

Anna: Yeah, via the 2d yr i used to be calling pals in Florida and telling them to come up for BFD. ?

Shelley: by way of the second yr, Anna basically began to make it extra of an event by using having a exhibit after Hadads on Saturday. That changed into at Plaza Bowl on the South aspect, and it became less difficult to persuade americans to return from farther away when it changed into extra of a weekend event.?

Anna: It turned into like an trade program C our chums from St. Augustine and Gainesville came for best chums Day after which we went down there to Gainesville Fest within the Fall.?

Shelley: For certain C each hobbies have been so enjoyable! So, now not to leap forward too tons to the conclusion of top of the line pals Day, however we began with speakme through bringing up the lore of the starting of highest quality pals Day. But i wanted to grasp from you, Randy, if you ever heard a fable behind why most suitable friends Day stopped happening?

Randy: yes! I actually have heard rumors C I even have described most advantageous chums Day as the most excellent punk-rock-run adventure in the background of all punk-rock-run routine, but lets face it C between BFD and Gwar-B-Q being held at Hadads, both had been one of the sketchiest hobbies, and it was disaster waiting to ensue. There isn t any means that anything else like that may happen now. ?

against Me! -BFD 2011. Image via Chris Boarts Larson.?

Shelley: completely not!?

Anna: It had a perfect run.?

Randy: Yeah, but again to the rumor C i believed that I had heard that someone received under the influence of alcohol and received run over in the parking space at Hadads.

Shelley: I heard that rumor! I forgot about that.?

Anna: That not ever happened.?

Shelley: No, no one ever acquired definitely damage.

Randy: I didnt hear that there was a loss of life, simply that somebody bought seriously injured.

Anna: I wish to understand what year the rumor begun did the rumor beginning after BFD 9 in 2010 and then there changed into nonetheless yet another one? Or did the rumor delivery at BFD 10 after it changed into over??

Shelley: I do feel the rumor begun before we ended most fulfilling pals Day and we made a conscious resolution to end it. Not as a result of the rumor, even though. For different factors.?

Anna: Yeah, the advertising for BFD 10 become all about The commencement which changed into high-quality and made it obvious that it was ending.?

Shelley: That become so intentional. No matter if individuals desired to believe it or now not, it was us signing off and asserting we re performed and it had everything to do with speakme with Ron Hadad, and him announcing, You had 5000 individuals here, and in case you are looking to keep going, the county is going to require you to rent law enforcement officials for an experience this size. which would mean that we needed to get in fact legit and have an enormous price range, in its place of simply having sufficient money left over to do it once more the next 12 months devoid of ever having company sponsors.?

Randy: Yeah, however you all had been doing it the way you knew how doing it the punk rock approach which is why in these dayss world, it may in no way ensue. Now not within the u.S.. So sorry children! You fucking neglected it! (laughs)?

Shelley: Yeah, we had one security man for each 1000 americans at Hadads. We had 5 dudes, and everybody turned into doing 10 jobs. The protection guys additionally worked the gate and gave out wristbands.

Randy: i m sure that over the years there needed to were a scuffle or two, but I personally certainly not witnessed violence at most fulfilling chums Day. ?

Anna: I believe from the very beginning not having sponsors, calling it superior pals Day, no longer calling it, like, Punch Fest [laughs], made it a greater relax adventure.?

Randy: ultimate friends Day isn t the vicinity to return and combat.

Anna: exactly. With a aspect that starts through be aware of mouth and is known as most appropriate chums Day, and in the beginning, you had to have known someone to find out about it and also you form of had to be punk. And to us, in our youth, punk did not mean stepping into fights and stuff, it meant high-fives and hugs.?

Shelley: For certain. The foremost chums Day Yearbook project all started by us speakme about this stuff remaining year. Around the beginning of quarantine Anna, Erin and i all started calling and getting on Zoom and checking in and we have been like, Wow, that was 10 years in the past subsequent yr, 20 years seeing that we began, and we could in no way do some thing like that once again. It had its special time and region, and it left us with lots of brilliant reminiscences.

Randy: it would not ever be the identical in case you tried to do it again. It will not have the equal personality. If you tried, it would get out on social media and the entire spirit of it will be distinct. I bear in mind that i d inform friends of mine, and only the nicest different americans in bands that I knew, i might inform them, we have this factor in Richmond known as superior friends Day where each person has an amazing time C you should come, and they would say, That sounds so sweet. [laughs] You dont want any assholes at an experience like top of the line chums Day turned into, and when you open it up to the general public on the information superhighway, there is no controlling the vibe.?

Anna: Yeah, you exceptionally dont want a million out-of-city assholes? touchdown in our metropolis. [laughs]

Shelley: And ten years later, it is barely the lore of what it once turned into, so lots of people dont recognize that it turned into this in reality distinct type of adventure than every other music festival round.

Anna: Yeah, and speaking about the publication ?

Shelley: Oh yeah, it was just an archiving assignment initially, simply a means to get the entire ultimate pals Day photos and our recollections accumulated collectively.?

Anna: It turned into our quarantine project.

Shelley: And the archiving received sort of big fast, as a result of I suppose Anna and that i refuse to do the rest little. Because why not? We figured why not see what may come from doing what we ve all the time accomplished ask our pals for support, ask our pals to participate, achieving out to americans and asking for their help of a project. And so many americans that we had now not talked to in years had been inclined to dig through old photographs on historical difficult drives?

Anna: And determine how they work. [laughs]

Shelley: before we knew it, we had an awful lot, but I still had gaps. So I started digging through Flickr and Googling finest pals Day and reaching out to strangers to ask for their photos and so many had been inclined to share those too.

Anna: And all this changed into before digital cameras. We under no circumstances requested any individual to take photos formally at Hadadss C and this became earlier than every person documented everything on their phones.?

Randy: lower back once we just used to do things only for enjoyable and never for photos [laughs]. And now all and sundry is at all times documenting. However fortunately there have been americans with cameras at Hadads. I suggest, I have gotten to know loads of photographers within the punk rock scene who have been shooting within the 70s and 80s, and its like, thank God you have been there to get all this.?

Shelley: smartly, now that all of us have a mobilephone in our pocket every second of the day, it s crazy to consider that again then, even only ten years in the past, someone needed to consider, i m going to take this truly nice digital camera

Anna: This basically expensive camera

Randy: And really high priced movie

Shelley: into a perilous condition like a punk reveal at a water park. And not handiest is that a risk, but in methods as a photographer you are committing your self to not always taking part because you are behind the digicam documenting.

Anna: And confidently not drop your digital camera in the water if you are doing it.?

Shelley: i am bound in a lot of approaches it allowed photographers to get nearer to bands and to individuals to take pictures. Together with your [Randy] adventure with images, is some of the inducement that it lets you be more in anything and nearer to it than with out a camera?

Randy: I grew to become a photographer unintentionally. I got a digicam to shoot video so I could film skateboarding shit after which someday I just decided to are attempting to take an image of my espresso pot and i become like Im a genius! [laughs] most likely it became a typical photo, but it changed into a worm. So for me, images is a means to step returned and examine. I m a author I write prose and lyrics so instead of that being simply me thinking and in my mind, with images I become extra observant of the realm around me and respect things aesthetically greater. ?

Shelley: i would like to ask the photographers concerned in this mission more about their motivation. You recognize, a lot of what I did with amassing pictures turned into over electronic mail and i havent had the chance to ask them about what motivates them. Is it being nearer to the bands? Is it simply the love of the tune?

Anna: It could be the opposite too C it may also be a method for someone who should be would becould very well be shy to be in the back of the digicam however still taking part in the motion.?

Randy: For me, images allowed me to have interaction in a visible inventive method, and that i feel for lots of photographers it the equal thing C at least for serious ones C as a result of they are creating paintings.

Anna: For sure, and its incredible to peer two different individuals take photographs of the identical component in the identical space and it doesnt look the same.?

Randy: 100%. It s wildly diverse reckoning on the standpoint of the photographer.

No BS! Brass, BFD 10. Picture by using Marc Gartner.

Shelley: i tried to exhibit some of these diverse views within the books two photographs from two diverse photographers in a spread at the identical event. And seeing the a variety of effects felt relatively magical.

Anna: I believe premier pals Day in regularly occurring is like that. Diverse people, diverse concepts. It began with a number of organizers but grew over the years. And then you had a real collaboration of spectacular artist doing posters, and a ton of bands, a true collective.?

Shelley: Yeah it become not ever definitely simply Anna and i possibly the first 12 months, however then the second year it was additionally Erin and extra with Ron Hadad, after which Tony and Ward [Tefft] joined through yr 4 or 5, after which Curtis [Grimstead] later, and venues book unofficial indicates. And then we had local companies contributing to the guidebook and working with guys from satisfactory foods changed into staggering.?

Randy: Did the law enforcement officials ever come to these early morning fine food car parking zone shows??

Shelley: No, which is stunning, because the shows were at like eight am.?

Randy: I bear in mind Tim Barry played twelve months, but it changed into too fucking early for me [laughs].

Anna: best meals became the vicinity also to get the To The backside and returned bus, so people have been going to be congregating there no count what.

Randy: I certainly not rode the bus, however I did journey mopeds out to Hadads a couple of times. One time I had driven an historical cop automobile that my buddy had sold me. On the way back from Hadads via downtown, the brakes went out, and me and my buddy rode all the means lower back with him leaning out the window yelling, flow! We aint acquired no brakes!!! [laughs] It changed into very nerve-wracking, but no one died.?

[Erin arrives and we take a brief intermission while Erin and Randy talk about surfing.]

Randy: So the Kickstarter definitely got the project going?

Shelley: Yeah! It become great that so many americans contributed to the Kickstarter. It changed into a really extraordinary option to hype of the book and get to let people learn about it about seven months earlier than. And then we acquired to shirts and buttons and different enjoyable stuff like we used to every summer time right through most useful friends Day.

Randy: so that you designed the publication?

Shelley: Yeah, I did. It changed into a crazy adventure; I went from only having ever designed probably an eight-web page booklet to designing a 356-page images e-book. And the bulk of the precise design work took location in Mexico, the place i used to be living over the iciness. I definitely moved into this espresso shop in Baja California so I might get wifi that could keep up with the picture info i was sending to the printer. It is anything i ll under no circumstances overlook. It became hectic but a lot of fun.?

Randy: smartly it looks notable. So will these be at Chop Suey?

Shelley: Yep Chop Suey in Carytown and in Tiny area in Church Hill. We are going to have an experience in Church Hill as an reliable liberate when the ebook is obtainable to the general public on June twenty sixth. It may be great to look individuals once more safely because the vaccine rollout.?

Anna: i willt look ahead to it to be out. I feel that it s such a vital part of Richmond history, and that i believe even for youngsters who not ever went, they ll see it and be blown away.?

Erin: Yeah, its astounding that this issue happened in Richmond for 10 full years, and now its documented.

Shelley: I definitely desire it to be a reminder of how things have been, how we used to do issues, the chums we had, and how that doesnt in fact should exchange. We should still see something like this e-book and be reminded that we can nevertheless reside in a lot of approaches the identical, with the identical intent

Randy: To reside lifestyles with the ethos of it

Shelley: precisely we dont deserve to stop doing stuff like we used to. Despite the fact that this time in our lives gainedt ever occur again.?

Randy: it mightt ever happen once more.?

Erin: Yeah, there don t seem to be satisfactory paramedics in Richmond to cope with what we used to do [laughs].?

Shelley: speaking of no longer enough of anything else, do you be aware the yr we had only 1 bar-b-que meals truck at Bike Lot for like a thousand americans? It changed into throughout the Nacho bounce in 2009.?

Erin: Yeah, and there became nothing vegetarian C I dont believe any person ate that day CC however I wager individuals had been alleged to eat the nachos.?

Randy: Didnt Dave Brockie [Oderus Urungus] dive into the nachos?

Shelley: sure, and there are some marvelous photos of that.?

Erin: I remember 12 months a person brought a kiddie pool to the Bike Lot and that made experience! That become this sort of surest chums Day factor to do convey anything weird to an adventure.

Shelley: So, I havent lived in Richmond for the closing three years, so I just may be out of the loop, but is stuff happening, like underground DIY shows? I mean, I are aware of its been greater than a 12 months of COVID, but are more youthful youngsters doing stuff like we used to?

Randy: I dont think there s as a great deal happening in Richmond at the moment.?

Anna: I agree I actually have access to younger americans and what they are doing through my work and that i dont believe they are doing as a great deal when it involves issues like condo suggests or events.?

Randy: I do know individuals in the hardcore scene that are doing indicates, have an area, but thats truly the simplest element I really learn about.

Shelley: Then what are young punks in Richmond doing, then?

Randy: they are doing social media.?

Erin: I wager that stuff is pretty time ingesting. [laughs]

Shelley: Is it the theory that if its now not Instagram-competent its no longer price taking part? As a result of if whatever thing is secret, or like, a word-of-mouth show, which you couldt put it on Instagram.?

Randy: Yeah, and i consider the character of the web has modified. And maybe the time period underground isnt even potential anymore. Like, we grew up mail-ordering information, or at least, you had to go to the listing keep, like Plan 9, to discover what turned into going with the aid of seeing a flyer for a reveal. Now that you could find and download extraordinarily vague track from everywhere on your cellular telephone if you are standing within the core of the jungle. And the way do i do know this? As a result of I have completed it. [laughs] and the way underground is that, if you happen to can get some thing anyplace? It doesnt take any work. I imply, after we had been transforming into up in punk rock there became no internet. I am from a small town, so my access to the rest became constrained.

Anna: Yeah, becoming up I realized to meet other punks through seeing them with patches on their jackets and going up and talking to them about bands. ?

Randy: yes and it was that you justd go to diverse cities without realizing any individual, see a person at streetlevel, and simply go say hello and begin a dialog concerning the scene there.

Shelley: Thats how I made some of my superior pals in Richmond when I first moved here in 2000. I lived on the nook of Belvidere and charm, and that i walked right down to gap in the Wall and started speakme to the first two individuals I saw outdoor and those are still chums of mine!

Randy: Yeah, some thing so simple as somebody seeing me in a foul Brains shirt and saying high-quality shirt sparked a life-lengthy friendship, and that i dont recognize if that really occurs so much anymore.

Anna: I also dont suppose individuals are in bands as a whole lot. It become the manner that we hung out then we started a band so we could be round our chums more. And that i dont see as plenty scene constructing now.?

Randy: Its wonderful because, from a musicians perspective, I used to get requested questions via more youthful enthusiasts who desired to know how our band first received began, asking if we acquired a tradition house, asking how we met each other, how did you e-book your first tour, the place did you go fundamental stuff. The questions I get from younger youngsters now go like this: hi there, i am thinking about beginning a band. Do you have got any suggestions on how i can prevail within the track business?

and people are not the correct questions as a result of we formed bands as a result of we desired to make tune. Children now just want to know the way to make a dwelling off of music.?

Erin: Yeah, its as although they just dont understand how tons time and effort and years of now not succeeding first go into it.

Randy: Its sort of terrifying. And that i inform them, in case you in reality want to do that, to be a musician, you need to be organized to make no funds perpetually. And there is a true probability that you simply might fail.?

Anna: Yeah. With most effective friends Day, when we did year one, we werent making an attempt to make it to yr two or yr ten we simply wanted to have an outstanding time and hang out. And every 12 months it did get greater, and every 12 months we did determine it. But simply 365 days at a time.?

Randy: So is there anything else with top-rated pals Day that you just consider such as you didnt get to achieve??

Shelley: There are some bands I in fact wish I had requested to play, however probably concept they wouldnt be attracted to it, as a result of I always notion of it as a native adventure even though it became bringing in a world viewers. But yeah, should still have asked a few of my favourite bands to play. They likely would have.?

Anna: i would have gotten a ideal chums Day tattoo all over a scavenger hunt if I had to do it once more. I would have participated extra within the fun components.?

Erin: I honestly dont have any regrets. I believe we stop whereas we had been forward, as a result of we d have had to level up so a great deal to keep doing it.?

Shelley: Yeah, the fast a person received hurt, we might not ever forget the first rate instances. So we stopped on a excessive note.

Anna: Yeah, and we went 10 years without sponsors. The next step would be to get police officers concerned. Like absolutely not. We aren t involving police officers with a purpose to keep doing this.?

Shelley: Yeah, that felt like the least punk aspect I could feel of, was [having] to talk to the police about most desirable chums Day.

Erin: Yeah. For us it became about pals and going over to Tonys as soon as every week to devise, and having that sense of group that feel of group among us all is how it all begun.

Shelley: All right, its getting late C any ultimate phrases?

Randy: damn children! [laughs]

Anna: i admire the thought of this being a name to action. Like, we may still be asking younger individuals to do as a lot DIY stuff as they could. And we, as older punks, wish to come to whatever thing it s that you re doing. All of your suggests, your entire activities.?

Randy: Yeah, in fact. Its time to set it off.?

To pre-order the most beneficial pals Day Yearbook, and for greater BFD goodness, including t-shirts, koozies, and extra, go to bestfriendsdayrichmondva.Com.

*Shoutout to Shelley Callahan for wrangling this piece collectively*


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