Writer and photographer Vern Hester is one of 25 talented locals profiled in our second annual People Issue.

I met Vern Hester while waiting in line to enter the photo pit at this year’s Riot Fest. This was shortly after intergalactic scum-dogs Gwar painted the audience in fake blood and dismembered a series of monsters and celebrity effigies, a performance that Hester literally couldn’t shake; his shirt, jeans, and shoes all were speckled with crimson when we first bumped into each other.

Hester spoke about Gwar’s set with a mix of shock and amusement, and he described his experience with more enthusiasm than one might expect from a person who entered the gauntlet known as the festival photo pit unprepared to get splattered with fake blood. I quickly discovered that Hester is no stranger to enthusiasm, and even when I felt tired towards the end of the festival, he continued to be as energetic as he was when we first crossed paths at the beginning of the weekend.