Degan Wilcox, 44, of Denver, has been living in Costa Rica for 16 years and is co-director of operations at Envision and director of “the build.”
He says the part of “the Village” where the staff stays consists of bamboo huts, with a commissary that serves food, and it stays up year-round. Degan said the workers here range from “admins with computers” to “Tico guys with machetes.”
And you can’t spell “party” without “art,” so …
“The stages are torn down every year and then put back up with entirely new art,” he says. “We try to reuse old art, then deco out the other parts of the festival with completely new stages and other art installations every year.”
By the time they do the “apex build,” about 10 days out from the start of the festival, Degan said there are probably 30 to 50 Costa Ricans working on-site, mostly from local communities.
“There’s a whole cooking staff, cleaning staff, cleaning ladies,” he said. “Toward the end the extranjeros come in, and there’s usually some big lifting on some of the stage builds, the design, the big art pieces.”
So how does Envision feed 5,000+ people, a great many of whom will be arriving by airplane from other countries, and will not be bringing their own food, Burning Man-style?
“We source the food, which is mostly organic, a farm-to-table concept, specifically for the staff,” he said — and “the staff” might be up to 1,500 people, including the artists.
For the larger masses, there’s a food court.
“At the event itself, all the humans mostly eat at the food court, which is almost entirely made up of local restaurants, or in some cases a family that does it once a year,” Degan said.
The same vendors are used every year, 90 percent of them local, he said. Food that’s 100 percent organic is not possible in this country at an event of this scale, he said, but organizers work directly with farmers and ranchers to ensure that the food is as pure as possible.