GeoWoodstock- GCG03E

 June 21, 2003


Louisville, Kentucky

Attended Logs: 154  (Event was legitimately logged up to 5x per attendee. Times were different then...)

Committee Representative: Southpaw

In 2003, the seeds of GeoWoodstock were planted  when Geocaching was a much smaller sport.  In 2002, the race to a thousand finds took over two years running over many states every weekend and only a handful had achieved it. Many of these "high find" cachers from different areas somewhat knew of each other - logbooks were less full then and they were on similar circuits - and began loosely keeping in touch with each other.  "Hey, buddy, I see your find count didn't go up this weekend.  You OK?" "Yeah, my brother just got married...I'll catch up!"  In a time when hundreds of finds put you at the top of the leaderboard (there was a leaderboard...) one of these cachers, Joe Armstrong, JoGPS, picked Louisville, KY a central location for the "big numbers" people to meet and worked with Show Me The Cache for ground recon to choose Waterfront Park.  The idea of inviting cachers from hundreds of miles away specifically to talk about geocaching was new. Seven of the top ten finders in the world[1] were able to make the event, so this event developed a reputation about being for "numbers people" when in reality, it was about people sharing their joy of the same hobby and sharing their experience of a hike to ammo box in the woods hundreds of miles from their respective homes.

The event itself was humble. The park was chosen for proximity to the I-64 overpass so we could continue to talk, should it rain, as well as easy walking access to park snacks and nearby eateries.  The cache page encouraged you to " pick up your happy meal on the way" so you'd have a trinket to exchange later in the day.  

Probably forty to fifty people drifted in and out that day, though the "found it" logs show more than that at a glance.  "Pocket caches" (now prohibited) were passed around through the course of the day to encourage everyone to meet each other.  The theme of a "hippy" event where everyone just shared their adventures and grooved with each other came through in the names of thee pocket caches which included "Peace" and "Love" as did Joe's signature catch-phrase, "Tooooo Coooool". Many attendees brought and wore tie-dye shirts to support that theme. Even on the first cuts of the cache page, Joe called it "1st Annual GeoWoodstock" to promote the idea that and event like this should be held again.

[1] BruceS, The Lil Otter, Show Me The Cache, CCCooper Agency, Southpaw, robertlipe, JoGPS.  Each had just over a thousand finds during this event.


Second Annual GeoWoodstock -GCHAZV

 July 3, 2004

 Nashville, Tennessee

Attended Logs: 129  ("236 people attended..." families under one name were common)

Committee Representative: RobertLipe

After hitting the goals of bringing people from far away for the original GeoWoodstock, Joe Armstrong knew the second needed to be near his home town where he could rally additional local support, so he chose a local park he worked with for years, Warner Park, as the location  The original idea of attracting as many cachers as possible - and from as far away - remained strong, but the hosting team really amped it up for a day or even weekend of family fun.  Though touted as "a very laid back event to meet and greet", this event innovated in the number of traditions that remain in GeoWoodstock today. This was the first event that really unified the attention of Garmin, Magellan, and Groundspeak.

  • Tennessee Farm Raised Catfish dinner was fried on location on demand.  Every attendee was fed lunch (including condiments, drinks, etc.) at no cost to them.
  • A staffed first aid station was available.  Good thing as we had one cacher bust open his arm falling in the nearby creek, earning a little lidocaine, six sutures, and a gauze wrap on the spot from GeoGyn before returning to the fun.
  • A poker run was available for the first time with 235 trade items at launch.  Laptops were used on site to eliminate the need to enter coordinates by hand. The two prominent Garmin cables and the two Magellan cables in use in that era were all connected with USB/Serial adapters (there were no USB GPSes)  to each laptop and each laptop could load up to 4 GPSes as quickly as users could connect their cables. The line moved very quickly.
  • Joe contacted GPS vendors and Groundspeak store for door prizes, including one GPS from Magellan, to be given away.  Every attendee walked away a winner of something. This was the first event to really show the GPS vendors that geocaching was a sizable and growing market.
  • Multiple organized "power runs", showing it was possible to physically log 240 finds in a 24 hour period just over 100 in about twelve hours were hosted by locals. To prepare for this, this was also the first GeoWoodstock to work with placers to "fluff" their caches (replace logbooks, etc.)  in advance and notify local law enforcement about increased suspictous traffic. About 10,000 geocaches were logged in the area that weekend.
  • Institutionalized the GeoWoodstock tradition of the group shot. The shot was taken by boosting ClayJar "cheerleader style" onto the roof of the pavilion.  This also began the tradition of capturing a photo of those that had been to the previous GeoWoodstock.
  • The first where a T-shirt was available, though not from the event host. Geocacher CyBret offered a link to his own artwork via a CafePress store.
  • This event began the tradition of 'closing ceremony' speech delivered by the host. JoGPS stood in the back of a truck, thanked everyone for attending and the sponsors, and announced the location of the following GeoWoodstock - a tradition that remains today.
  • First GeoWoodstock with a Travel Bug checkin area.
  • First with an international contigent that made the trip from Germany specifically to meet this group.

GeoWoodstock III - NEFGA Style! - GCKAPA

 May 28, 2005

 Jacksonville, Florida

Attended Logs: 276

Committee Representative: Paintfiction

GW3 easiy caused the most controversy of any GW. We were railed on for the "commercialization" of the event because we sold t-shirts and geocoins to finance the event. We were scared to death the geocoins would fail since that had not been done before. What we really believed would be a big hit were GW3 (pin back) buttons we had made up by the hundreds. They were a TOTAL flop. All this seems quaint now. 

We were able to talk Groundspeak into allowing us to put tracking numbers on our coins which at the time was a pretty big deal. Until then the only trackable geocoins were from or MtnBike.

Groundspeak and the general consensus of GC forum denizens of the times thought we (in Florida) were the scourge and demise of geocaching because of our damnable micros and general number whoring (not my word). We were even picked on for posting our event so far ahead of time (a feat which required much whining and gnashing of teeth on my part with any GC lackeys I could catch on the phone). Thankfully by the time the event date drew near we were recognized as performing a POSITIVE service for geocaching in general and were bestowed the honor of the white Jeep TB being passed out at our event by none other than Jeremy Irish's brother Nate and another lackey or 2. They even allowed us to have a mobile version of the Groundspeak store at our event.

We prepared a FREE meal for approximately 500 people and had it all served in about 20 minutes. GW3 for many years has had the reputation for best food at an event. We also supplied bottled water and soda free for the taking. We never ran out!

GW3 was the first to have a tie-dye booth to allow people to customize their event shirt. One of our failures was not recognizing how popular this was. We sold EVERY extra white shirt available and could've sold many more. 

GW3 was the first to have guided cache runs on the day following the event. These ranged from a numbers run to a muddy 4WD adventure to a walk through historic St. Augustine. We even had a cache run designed to allow those in a wheelchair or otherwise handicapped to participate.  

GW3 was certainly the LAST large event to be held without the prior approval of the park management. We were afraid they would say NO so we decided to not ask and just lined up at the gates at 5am and were the first people in the park and grabbed the pavillions we planned to use. The park did not allow pavilion reservations on holiday weekends.  I did meet the park manager that afternoon. We rode around in her golf cart and had a nice chat. She was not pleased at first but after a bit of explaining she understood and Geocaching made a friend that day. 

GeoWoodstock 4 - GCRRC6

 May 27, 2006

 Dallas, Texas

Attended Logs: 441

Committee Representative: 9Key

GeoWoodstock V - GCZKVX

May 26, 2007

Raleigh, North Carolina

Attended Logs: 1,051

Committee Representative: wimseyguy

First GW to have over 1000 attended logs.

First (and only) GW to have 2 megas in one weekend. Our Friday Night Meet & Greet had 625 Attended logs and was awarded MEGA status after the event. Later on Groundspeak determined that this was the only time that two MEGAs would be allowed in one weekend at the same venue.

First GW to create a separate section for vendors.

First GW to have any lackey let alone one of the founders (Jeremy) on site and working the food service line.

First and only AFAIK GW to be held on the wedding anniversary of one of the hosts. My wife still reminds me of this every May when I am getting ready to attend another GW.

GeoWoodstock through the years...

A brief history of each event in the words of their host committee.