Hosted In An Abandoned Church Two Hours West Of Fort Worth, This Bizarre Annual Music Festival Has Wormed Its Way Into The North Texas Scene’s Heart.
Just about two hours west of Fort Worth, the unincorporated town of Romney sits about about 10 miles south of Interstate 20. It’s a mostly unremarkable town, located about 20 minutes from the nearest convenience store. But, for the past 13 years, Romney has — perhaps oddly — become a known and appreciated commodity within the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene.
Over the course of that stretch, the Grapevine-raised visual artist named Andrew Hammond Kendall has drawn dozens of North Texas bands to Romney year after year for an event he calls NOFEST, which is short for November Fest. A not-for-profit, cooperative, two-day festival that’s managed by Kendall, his friends, a handful of volunteers and the bands booked to perform themselves, NOFEST is held within and around the grounds of an abandoned church that was once used as a behavioral center for young boys. Attendees either camp on the grounds or pass out on the old beds inside of the building each night, and Kendall puts each of his guest’s $13 entry fees toward the food, water and coffee they’ll consume over the course of the event.
It’s a unique affair, to say the least. But year in and year out, Kendall is able to convince a slew of bands to play his offering. And this year’s event, which took place this past weekend, was no different. In fact, NOFEST 13 boasted a rather impressive lineup of shows from such North Texas acts as Sunbuzzed, Joe Gorgeous, Daniel Markham, War Party, Upsetting, Lizzie Boredom, Panic Volcanic and Sealion (among others) across its two performance spaces — in the church itself and in a second room called The Linoleum Room (named for, well, fairly obvious reasons).
View this post on Instagram
Nofest posters i printed a couple days ago. Limited edition of 120. Things are goin smooth here. Tonight we had hot dogs, tomorrow we have chili, and who knows what else. Bring some food and we’ll cook it. Bring some beer if you like to drink beer. Bring some cinnamon if you have some sittin around. See yall today! #nofest13 #screenprint #ladder #oven #hotdogs
The venue itself is as much a star attraction to NOFEST as its bands are. Along with old posters and books about Jeses, the rundown building, which Kendall is slowly updating, is essentially an artistic installation at this point. It is filled with his work — to the point where there’s barely any bare wall space remaining.
At this year’s 13th annual offering, the bands were joined on the bill by a Friday night screening of a documentary film that Kendall’s brother Joey — himself a fixture in the North Texas music scene — made about the fest’s history called You Are Here, which is a reference to one of the pieces installed on the property.
Thus year’s event also included the burial of an old oven, which Kendall turned into a time capsule, filling it with keepsakes and trinkets to be reclaimed at some point in the future.
Sound goofy? It is. NOFEST is, in reality, little more than likeminded creatives enjoying one another’s company and quirks. But that’s also what provides the event its appeal and sense of community. It’s an event where everyone can be themselves, without a bother to the world. That, along with some ripping performances from the bands who want to impress the fellow musicians in attendance, is what makes it special.
NOFEST is probably not what you think about when you think about a music festival. But it’s somehow greater than those other offerings.
Plus, it’s just an amazing excuse to ditch your given family after Thanksgiving in order to spend a little time with your chosen one.
NOFEST, rather objectively, is one big yes.