Vote For Your Favorite Story to Win LOCKN’s 50 Years of Love Contest

To celebrate Virginia’s 50 Years of Love, Nelson County is giving away a pair of Super VIP passes with camping to someone celebrating love in their life. We asked fans to send us their stories for a chance to win. We’ve put together our top choices and we need your help in picking the winner. Everyone who votes will be automatically entered to win a pair of GA Passes to LOCKN’ 2019! Voting ends June 24 at 11:59PM.

Scroll down to read the great stories we’ve chosen and come back to the top of the page to vote for your favorite to win.

1. Ashley

I’ve only loved her openly for a few years now. When we were younger she was loud and bossy, but I liked her because I wished I could be that outgoing! She had other friends but a lot of times it was just she and I. When she was 4 she gained a sister. She spent less time with me because she was always trying to make people pay attention to her instead of her sister. Her mom also (really it was the court) made her go see her dad even though they’d gotten a divorce right after her new sister came home. She tries to forget about those times because he wasn’t very nice, but I’ll always remember the stories she told me. Stories of how she swears she saw him use drugs but couldn’t tell anyone and how she was secretly afraid of him.

Then when we were 9 her mom got remarried and she gained another sister her age. She was so excited and couldn’t wait to go to her new school with her new sister. But her new sister was jealous and told lies to all the people she tried to be friends with. She and I hung out a lot after that and she opened up about how sad she was. Those years were tough, but then we finally made it to high school! She and I really drifted apart over those years though, she was a popular girl and I was quiet and withdrawn. She did things I really didn’t approve of. When we talk about them now though at least she regrets them. She had boyfriend after boyfriend and I never understood why she couldn’t just stay single and hang out with me more. Finally, we graduated and I started to see my old friend again.

She went to college and had all the fun you are supposed to have during college. She was so smart, she could have been anything. That is until she started dating her last boyfriend. He was toxic and she dropped out of school, lost all her other friends and even her family didn’t want to be around her. I tried to help her, to help her pick herself off the floor when he would push her around. It didn’t matter, she loved him even though he repeatedly just used her. He told her no one else would ever love her. She believed him, even when I begged her to leave and told her that I would take care of her. She was lost and for 6 years we barely ever spoke. She was really just a ghost of the woman I knew. Then the predictable happened and that boyfriend cheated on her, humiliated her, and threw her to the curb as if the last half decade meant nothing. She was as broken as I had ever seen her. But we started hanging out again…

She started listening to the music she wanted and gaining her own interests. I was so proud. She even got a great job and met her soul mate. I don’t mean that quite in the way you think, not all soul mates have to be romantic. She had met another friend who just got her.. He put her back together after all the heartbreak she experienced. That’s when I really fell in love with her, it was the happiest she and I had ever been. But in her world happiness is often just a dead end road it seems. Tragedy struck, her soul mate lost his battle with depression and decided it was his time to move on. In an instant, I saw her shatter into a million pieces. I was there when she found out he was gone. I’ve never felt such grief, intense anger, resentment, and guilt. She felt emotions that don’t even have names. I couldn’t help her. She didn’t want her mom, her sisters, she didn’t even want me around. I thought I would never see her again, we would never be as close as we once were because I didn’t think she would come back.. But I was wrong. It took a while but within the next year, she asked me to come back into her life. I was overjoyed. And a little shocked because I wasn’t sure if this was the same girl I had always known. She was healthy, she had started hanging out with the old friends she’d lost all those years ago. She was kicking ass at her job and getting promoted. She had wisdom, passion, and above all, I could see she was finally starting to love me in return. To this day our relationship is never the week to week, month to month. I still see she has hard times but she handles them much better than before. I think she must have collected all the pieces of her soul that had been chipped away over time and used her grief to find strength. Oh and she’s stopped pushing me away when things get hard.. At least she doesn’t push me far. And while I have only loved this woman openly for a few years now, I think deep down I’ve always been in love with the women she would become. It took 30 years.. but I always knew she would love me someday too.

You see both women in the story are me. I’m 30 And I finally love me. And while I may not have outwardly loved myself every step of the way, I’ve always loved the idea of who I could become with a little self-worth. Do you know where I found that self-worth? Music, festivals, the joy of community and like-minded people. And for that, and Lockn, I will forever be grateful.

2. Pete

I have been in love with the music of The Grateful Dead since before the day I was born. I know you’re probably thinking that is impossible so allow me to explain myself. Both my parents are heads. Dad got on the bus in ’77 and never looked back and my mom was joining him at shows by 1980. Fast forward to 1991 the boys are doing a run at the old Boston Garden, my parents are there and my mom is seven months pregnant with me. They both tell me how I “danced” or kicked the night(s) away in the womb. Two months later in the delivery room at the hospital, my dad brought in the tapes from those shows and started playing them while my mom was in labor. As I was born “Eyes of the World” from 9/21/91 was playing. The very first thing my little ears would hear was the eyes!

Since then The Grateful Dead has been one of the most important things in my life. As a kid it was a way to spend time with my mom and dad, listening to the songs, learning the lyrics, the band members past and present. It seemed like the more I learned, the deeper I wanted to dive into the music. You could put on a tape from any era and within a few notes, my dad could tell you what year, what tour the show was from. When I was younger that blew me away that he always knew the answer. I kept listening to as many shows as I could so that I could have that same feel for the music and the different eras of the band. I quickly realized why my dad didn’t have a favorite song or a favorite show because the greatest thing about the music was that it was always changing, evolving and that’s what has kept me interested and in love with Grateful Dead for my entire life. No matter what, you can always find something you haven’t heard before. While most kids in my class were going to see bands like the Back Street Boys or artists like Britney Spears I was going to see the Other Ones, Phil and friends or Ratdog. I knew I wasn’t going to see them play the songs exactly the way they sounded on the albums. I was going to see something “different” that was only going to happen that night and I understood at a young age how unique and special that really was.

Going to see Grateful Dead music performed live became my absolute favorite thing to do. Perhaps my love for the music was already in my DNA since both my parents “get it” or maybe it was the ’91 garden shows I felt/heard from the womb, maybe it was just because it was something my family was into doing together but over 27 years later and I’m still going to shows with my mom and dad. I am and I always will be deeply in love with the music of The Grateful Dead! Thanks, Jerry, Bobby, Billy, Pigpen, Phil, Mickey, Keith, Donna, Brent, Vince, Robert and John.

3. Susan

At first I thought this question was difficult. Then I realized it was simple. Being clean and sober is what I have loved the longest. God willing, on July 14, 2019, it will have kept me coming back for 32 years. I do not believe that I had the capacity to love before getting clean. Because I have kept coming back, my life is now FILLED with love and joy.

I was born in 1957 and was a 12-year-old wannabe hippie in 1969. My story is long and sad but no different from so many others. Recovery is a gift and I am in love with it. Here’s a shout out to the Wharf Rats who helped me keep going to Dead shows, even in early recovery. Another shout out to Lockn’ for the awesome sober camping area. Those VIP passes would be a true miracle!!

4. Dawn

The Music was my first love and, indubitably, will be my last.
Born into life with a single Mom, The Music was both my first friend and first babysitter. A childhood spent alone in front of my lil’ suitcase record player and a pile of well-worn 45s, hand-me-downs and borrowed goods from my groovy mother’s collection. The Beatles “Yellow Submarine”, The Monkee’s “Valleri” …. Elvis, Joe Cocker, The Doors, Janis, Jimi, and yes, even David Cassidy …. These were the soundtracks of my childhood while all the other kids were still diggin’ on Sesame Street.

Home-alone-but-singing-and-rockin’-out-like-it-don’t-matter to The Music probably saved this unsupervised child’s life on more than one occasion. After years of fumbling with Mom’s boyfriend’s guitars, my first guitar and I met at age 10 (why yes, a Yamaha, of course, which I still have, though it needs new strings). My guitar became what was often my only companion and solace in my lonely room. It was my magic wand, alchemizing the silent house into musical cacophony, filling the void in my heart with the richness and life force of sound. Learning the songs of Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bonnie Raitt, and Skynyrd … the old-fashioned way …. ehem ….. not by googling …. but by repeatedly moving the turntable arm back over and over (and over and over) again to re-listen to each song until I had written down every lyric.

Being the child of a never-aging rockster Mom did have the occasional perk. Before I could drive, I saw Kiss, with AC/DC as the opener (yep, mmmmhmmmm). I saw Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, …. and remember Firefall?! I discovered the profound and powerful ecstasy created by being in the very presence of the music masters and swarms of people who loved them. I discovered “the cool people”, I discovered the parking lot scene, I discovered how to become as One amidst a sea of strangers. I discovered The Dead. And I wanted more.
In 1981, I attended The Round-Up at JFK Stadium in Philly with, undoubtedly, the most stellar Southern Rock line up of all times: The Outlaws, Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker and .38 Special. I was 15 years young, and I would never be the same.

When I was old enough to work, my friends were saving up for cool clothes and eyeshadow. I was saving up for music. I put some EPI speakers and speaker wire from Stereo Types on layaway so that I could siphon the music from my mom’s stereo down the long hallway and into my room. Then, months of agony later, finally came the Harmon Kardon receiver. And then finally …. finally, the Dual turntable.

The era of the Walkman allowed me to take my friend, music, with me wherever I went. I was on the school bus when I learned through my earphones that John Lennon had been shot. I was the only one on the bus crying.
The late 80’s Music begat the era of tape mixing, a past time in which much time was passed and of which has, sadly, passed us by. The Great Purging of Things a few years ago dealt a crushing blow to my heart when I was forced to leave my collection of mixed tapes on the freebie table at the recycling station. I still had a tape player that would NOT eat my tapes, I would have smuggled them a great escape inside of my mattress.
My friend, music, stayed with me and guided all that I was during the strange 80s and even stranger 90s. It influenced the clothes I wore, the way I wore my hair, the people I knew, the places I went. My friend, music, built bridges and provided gateways to almost every meaningful relationship of my life … even as some of those relationships slipped away. There was still music. Concerts, festivals and shows …. boxes of ticket stubs, filled to overflowing …. Me and my music had places to go and proof we went. RFK, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Hampton Coliseum were the more extraordinary excursions, but on the regular, it was Trax or better yet, The Mineshaft! Then there was the birth of Van Riper’s Lake and my intro to WSMFP. These places raised me, they filled my soul with their sounds, they gave me all the medicine I needed to feel whole despite Charlottesville cliques and teenage (20’s??) angst.

If it were not for the Grateful Dead, alternative rock (when it really was “alternative”), reggae music as a whole, and garage/psychedelic music, I would not have survived the great tragedy known by me as “the College Years”. Enough said. There are just some things I still can’t talk about. So let us just fast-forward to now, several decades later (yes, decades).

Music has outlasted almost every relationship I have ever had. Through all the towns, through all the concerts, through all the festivals, ….. (let’s break this down, shall we?) …. Through leaving my purse at shows, through losing my I.D. at shows, through trying to get backstage at shows, through trying to find my ride after shows, through losing my guy to another girl at shows …. The Music was – and still is – there.
The Music still fills the walls of my lonely ol’ room. I have no children, I have no beau …. But I still have my guitar and my Musical Family has grown to include the mandolin, the mandola and a wide variety of drums. I still have my turntable and am trying to figure out if Spotify is the devil. I still have my concert ticket stubs and my old vinyl, though both are dusted with time. I still get out on that dance floor when the young girls are surely wondering what gives me the gall. I still have the magic that fills my heart every time music enters my soul.

When the weather is cold, I dream of dancing beneath the stars to the sweet, sweet sounds of music on a sultry, summer night. And when the weather turns warm, I get out my calendar and mark down ALL the festivals, in hopes this farm girl can find some help with the land, the plants and the animals … just a quick respite to steal away to a show. That help comes few and far between, but when she can finally fly and be free, you can bet she calls on her dearest …. her truest …. and sometimes her only friend, The Music.
That farm girl is here, waiting on her medicine, waiting on her miracle. Just a little Music-Magic is all she needs to get her through this thing called life. I wiiiiiiilllll get by ….. and with The Music, I wiiiiiillll survive!

5. Shae

It may sound cliche’ but as I pondered the question I have many images, memories, and reflections of people and objects flowing through my mind. Perhaps inspired by the context of the question, but nonetheless, I stand firm in my lifelong love of Virginia.

An anonymous poem has always stuck with me that states: “To be a Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even on one’s mother’s side, is an introduction to any state in the Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from the Almighty God.”

I am lucky enough to claim Virginia by birth but with her rich history, majestic scenery and diverse topography and people I would find it difficult for anyone that has been here not to love her.

I’ve loved and lost here, I’ve built my business here, married here (to an Iowa girl, but she’s a Virginian now), my son was born here. I’ve hiked, camped, canoed, rock climbed, fished, hunted and biked here. I’ve served as Vice Mayor of my hometown, won a State Championship in high school (VHSL 1989 Theatre) and won several Virginia Association of Broadcaster awards. I’ve played and listened to music here, seen art and made here, laughed and cried here, made my life here. Deltaville to Grundy, Emporia to Arlington, Front Royal (my hometown) to Lovingston, each is unique and different but they all hold my heart as does every County, City and Town.

Again, my answer may be cliche’ but I would find it hard to believe that even you, the reader can not agree with me. If for you there is still any doubt I would encourage you to stand at an overlook on the Skyline Drive, on the Capitol steps in Richmond, on the beach staring out at the Atlantic, at Lockn’ or anywhere in this great Commonwealth, reflect on the question and not express your unconditional love for her.

6. Anna

What I have loved the longest in my 27 years is my family. My friends have always admired how close and loving our family is, and it is something that I have cherished for my entire life. In 2014, my sister and I bought my dad LOCKN tickets for Father’s Day, and it was the best decision either of us has ever made–and that is not an exaggeration. Many of the artists and bands we saw that year and each year since at LOCKN were those that we grew up listening to in my dad’s 1993 Toyota pick-up truck, which he drove for 24 years. The highlight of that trip was when a nice, young couple was leaving the festival early on Sunday and gave my sister and my dad their Super VIP tickets to go to the very front of the Allman Brother’s show, the band we grew up listening to most. It was a magical night for them and he will always beam in pride and love for that band, LOCKN, and the time we had that weekend when he tells the story.

My dad checks the LOCKN website for updates at his lunch hour every day at work, in the office of the company he has worked at for 35 years. He will call or text my sister, Lizzie, and I with updates he finds or emails us links for articles or news we should read about LOCKN. He looks forward to our trip to Virginia from Georgia to the festival every year more than anything else. As we prepare for our sixth year at the festival, it would be an amazing opportunity to win Super VIP tickets to celebrate our loving family and the unforgettable experiences we have had these last five years at LOCKN. And I can’t think of a better person to deserve it than my dad, who has done anything and everything for my sister and me since the days we were born.

My sister has kept me coming back to her side for the 25 years that she has been alive with her unwavering support throughout our years together. My dad keeps me coming back to him for love and inspiration to enjoy life, treat every man like a friend, and always look forward to the future with excitement. And LOCKN keeps us all coming back to remind us how life is meant to be enjoyed doing what you love with the ones you love. And for that, we’ll keep coming back <3