Thursday, March 17, 2011

A guide to festival-going

What better day to write about something I've never written about before, than a day I had no clue what to write about?  This idea has been in my head for a few weeks, so here's hoping it has aged and hasn't spoiled.

Here in south Louisiana, we've experienced several weeks of temperatures in the 60's and 70's, pretty much ever since the weekend after it was supposed to snow (read: we canceled school for two days because it was cold and wet).  Now that it's mid-March, we're in the 80's.  I'm pretty sure we'll see 100+ before we see June 1st.  Yeah, it's gonna be one of those summers.

The good news is, it is now festival season.  I'm not sure what things are like in the rest of the country, but I know in the South, there's pretty much a festival every weekend within a 200-mile radius.  Mardi Gras was only the beginning.  Small towns generally have one festival a year in honor of their prime industry or resource.  Coushatta used to have the Lignite Festival, Greensburg the Forest Festival, Ponchatoula is gearing up for the Strawberry Festival (or "Ponchy Gras"), etc.  New Orleans will have one every 2-4 weeks from now until after Labor Day.  Festivals continue into Fair Season in the fall, but fairs pretty much dominate that and shut it down by the time the weather gets cold again.

So, if you're planning on festivaling it up sometime soon, here are some tips to remember:

1. Traffic sucks.  There's no way around sucky traffic.  The bigger the ratio of festival attendees to town population, the worse it gets.  Prime example: Ponchy Gras usually involves the interstate backing up for a quarter of a mile at the Highway 22 exit.  This is the only time of the year that happens.

2. Drunk people suck.  Sure as there's a party, there will be drinking and there will be drunks.  Be ready for them.  Their drunkenness tends to increase exponentially with the PM hours.

3. Street cleaners suck.  By that, I mean they suck trash up into them off the streets, and it's actually kinda cool to watch.

4. Salespeople suck the money out of you, if you don't know what you're going for.  Buy wisely, but do spend money.  These people mostly make their living off of festivals, so be a good member of a capitalist economy and buy some stuff.  Only be a smart buyer.  You got that iPhone 4 for $600 on opening weekend because you're sma.a.a.a.r.r.....alright I can't say it.  But you got that iPhone 4 with its supermaniacawesome capabilities, use the apps to your favor and make sure you're not paying 10x what you could pay on eBay just because it's right in front of you. 

5. Food vendors suck the money out of you, too: $6 for a po-boy that doesn't include chips or a drink, but wait, you're sponsoring the local high school band or garage band or something.  Shame on you for wishing you packed food.

6. Bands suck.  Okay, not all of them really suck, but some of them go as far as to redefine suckage.  Somehow, these guys can't get a paying gig at a bar, but their uncle is a festival planner so they got six slots on the mainstage throughout the weekend.  Try to restrain the urge to throw things.

Nevertheless, festivals are great time to practice your photography skills if you're trying to learn and want to drum up some business.  They're a great place to make money if you like to haggle over the prices of your warez with a background track of the fifth version of "Brown Eyed Girl" you've heard this weekend.  They're a great place to people-watch and remind yourself that a) your own life isn't really all that bad and b) even the local populace isn't as bad as Jersey Shore.  They're a great place to learn to be thankful that festivals only come every so often.

What things did I not list about festivals?  What's your favorite local small town festival?

See you at Ponchy Gras.  Domino's delivery time will be two hours if we're lucky.


  1. so, if I walk and bring my own food (and stay away from the crazies),I am good to go!!

  2. Watch the street cleaners while you're there. They're more entertaining than the bands.