Summer Festivals

by Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin

Summer is the time for festivals and fairs. If you haven't had the chance to grab a funnel cake or fried Oreo then you're doing summer wrong, my friend. Still, summer festivals, with their large crowds and hot weather, are no walk in the park. As a seasoned festival-goer here are some of my quick rules to enjoying (and surviving) a summer festival.

Rule #1: Know your festival

Crowds at Park Ave Fest in Rochester, NY.

Crowds at Park Ave Fest in Rochester, NY.

No two festivals are the same. Some allow you to bring your own food, drinks, and pets while others do not. Familiarizing yourself with the festival map is generally a smart move, especially if you're working with a limited time frame and want to focus on certain attractions. You may also want to contact certain festival coordinators and ask about their accessibility amenities. (Asking about festival peak hours to avoid crowds is not a bad idea either.)

 

Rule #2: Park like a boss

Parking on Argyle Street in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Parking on Argyle Street in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Parking downtown can already be a complete pain, multiply that by a hundred more people and you get a thousand more headaches. In recent years I've relied mostly on public transportation to festival sites to avoid the parking disaster altogether, but in the past I have cheated the system in the following ways:

  • Arrive early— Beat the traffic jam, crowds, and sun by arriving early to the festival site. If you're first on the scene you get free street parking near the festival.
  • Pay up or walk up— Many business and home owners will rope off prime parking spots for the festival and charge for festival parking. If you're not early to a festival you will have to pay for a nearby parking spot or resign yourself for a long walk to the festival site. I recommend parking in a nearby church or non-profit for cheaper rates.
  • Don't push the law— Don't test your luck with no parking zones or fire hydrants, unless you want to pay some hefty fines.

 

Rule #3: Bring cash

See this fluffy piece of heaven? Funnel cakes with powdered sugar on top are God's Southern gift to the world.

See this fluffy piece of heaven? Funnel cakes with powdered sugar on top are God's Southern gift to the world.

It is a well-known fact that I grew up in Texas, the homeland of fried food. To me, summer is all about ice cream, sherbet, and fried dough. So if you, like me, attend festivals primarily for the fried food, then you need cash on hand. Some vendors may accept credit or debit cards, but the large majority of them still rely on cash. So grab some Jacksons and treat yourself to some delicious (but overpriced) food and drink.

 

Rule #4: Stay Hydrated

Drinking water station at Green Music Festival.

Drinking water station at Green Music Festival.

I could talk myself hoarse on this subject, but it's so important! You can't leave your home without sunscreen, umbrella/hat, and water bottle. Check out our Hydration Guide and Heat Guide for more.

 

This article is part of the Summer Bucket List series. For more on how to have a cool and active summer, click here.