'You Just Got Momm'd!'

What does it take to staff a music fest’s ‘Mom Booth’? A talkative personality, some good advice, and lots of Band-Aids.

Maureen Mcraith

Full disclosure, I pretty much “barged” my way into the “Mom Booth” at the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival in June using my connections. As a ticket holder, I was intrigued when I saw that one of the art installations was a Mom Booth staffed with “Local Moms.” I immediately texted my brother, Mike, who knows festival founder Justin Vernon, and jokingly told him to contact Justin to let him know I “needed” to be in the Mom Booth. In an ironic twist, my brother said he would go a step beyond that and contact Justin’s mom, Justine. Twenty-four hours later, I was in and I was thrilled!

I told many attendees as they turned back to the fest the same thing I tell my boys every time they leave the house: “Make good decisions! I mean it!”

As the first “mom” scheduled, I wasn’t sure what to expect especially since my only real mom “skill” is talking. So when the first festgoers shyly walked over, I did the only thing I knew how to do and just started talking. I found the festgoers to be very interested and ready to “play along,” which was exciting. It was fun to find that something so relatively simple and down-to-earth was being greeted by attendees with enthusiasm and glee. People were eager to tell me why they had traveled long distances to come to the festival, what they hoped to get out of it, who they wanted to see and why; what they thought of Eau Claire, the campground, the fest grounds, the beer, everything!

Many asked where I came from and were delighted when I told them I lived just over the hill and had driven here in my “Mom Mini Van.”

My favorite part was being greeted out on the grounds after my shift with calls and shout-outs of “Hey! It’s Mom!” and “Hi Mom! I’m staying hydrated!” I was able to keep “momming” all weekend.

One of the first attendees needing a mom was a young lady whose sun dress strap had broken. I found a hair barrette and used it to fasten the two broken ends together and she was good to go. Several hours later, she spotted me out on the grounds and proudly showed me that it was “still holding nice and strong!”

Another initial visitor to the booth was a shy Canadian man, who seemed happy that I was excited to discover people from Canada had come to the fest. He was even more pleased when I recognized him the next day.

Three young woman from Chicago seemed content to just stand and let me dispense all kinds of advice which morphed into giving out “mom hacks,” such as asking the produce manager to core your pineapple for you so you don’t have to mess around with it. “You just got momm’d!”

One young man from Milwaukee asked me to call his mom and let her know he was safe and having fun. When she didn’t answer, I left a message which resulted in her calling me back with a rather concerned tone to her voice. When I assured her that her son was OK, she got the joke and laughed about it.

I’m also currently on the hunt for a love connection between a young lady in Madison and any eligible bachelors I know in that area. She’s guaranteed me a spot at the head table during the wedding if I find her a match.

And I’ve also got space in my yard reserved for a couple of out-of-state campers who were camping way up in Lake Wissota State Park. “So far away!” I cried. They said it was cheaper than other campgrounds, so I promptly offered them space in my nearby yard next year for free.

As he turned away from the booth, one person was overheard saying, “Yep, those are definitely Midwestern moms.” And proud of it, mister!

I didn’t have to “act” like a mom at all, I just treated everyone the way I treat all “kids.” I made sure they had what they needed: sunscreen, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, (lots of Band-Aids). I scolded them over poor footwear choices, encouraged them to stay hydrated, and told them not to be afraid to take a nap in the shade if needed.

When asked what my bottom-line advice was as a mom, I said, “Be kind and work hard.” But I also told many attendees as they turned back to the fest the same thing I tell my boys every time they leave the house: “Make good decisions! I mean it!”

I’m so happy I made the good decision to stick my neck out a bit and get involved in something that brought so much enjoyment to Eaux Claires festgoers. The Mom Booth really struck a chord with people of all ages and walks of life. It really is true: No matter how old you get or how far away from home you are, there’s no one like Mom.

Thinkpieces are reader-submitted reflective essays. A wide variety of ideas, analyses, and notions are welcome. Submit your essay for consideration to giffey@volumeone.org.

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Maureen Mcraith  author

Maureen McRaith came to Eau Claire 33 years ago as a UW-Eau Claire student, fell in love with the city and never left. Now that their two sons are mostly grown-up, she and her husband, Scott, spend much of their free time enjoying city events as well as the trails and rivers that wind ...

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