What to Bring
Don’t minimize the importance of getting this right. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself at a great spot at the bottom of the hill only to realize that you left your favourite recycled plastic yoga mat you were going to carry to all of the side stages, at home. Along with the requisite sunscreen, bug spray, hat, sunglasses, and reusable water bottle I suggest the following:
The Chair: Veteran or newbie this year everyone is going to need to get new chairs. Remember those rules I talked about yesterday? Well there are new ones for chairs this year and I’m afraid that means trading in your Costco “Rio”, which only about ⅔ of the festival goers have used without incident over the past 5 years, for something a little shorter. On a recent trip to our local camping store I discovered a tie-dyed number that meets all of the official requirements and, at first blush seemed to me to be the perfect folk fest accessory. But in retrospect I’m a little worried that some people will exercise both this and the tie-dye t-shirt option (you’ll read about that tomorrow) and, as a result, have the unfortunate experience of finding a complete stranger sitting on top of them because they were indistinguishable from their surroundings. So just to be safe I would go with something in a solid colour.
The Tarp: You’re going to need a tarp and you better make sure it is 8×10 (yes, it’s a rule) or you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of this fence. I’m going to say you go with blue on this one. Yes it’s true that’s the colour of 95% of the tarps at the festival so yours will become just one more fish in a rather large sea. But here’s the thing. At some point in the week-end someone you know is going to want to meet you at your tarp. The only way to get them there is to figure out how many rows you are up from the bottom of the hill and in from the side and to pass on that information. Of course there are no real “rows” at this fest which leaves your directions open to some rather significant interpretation. The thing is, if your tarp was let’s say orange, you would be making things all too easy for your friends and what’s life without a challenge or two?
The iPhone: I know, you’re wondering why on earth you’re going to need this technology from your “other life”. Well there’s more than one reason. First, when your friends can’t find your tarp (that tarp counting never works) they’re going to call you so you can talk them through the crowd. Of course this will be of minimal use since there is so much noise they’ll only pick up every few words. Never mind, they’ll find you, eventually. Next, I think it’s a good alternative to the “candle” thing that goes on every night on the hill. There’s nothing more disconcerting than watching free spirited children run around with lit candles while their free spirited parents pay little or no attention to them. So to get around this rather dubious practice I think we should all download a candle app which will make swaying to the music, light in hand, all that much safer. The effect will be the same and the fire chief can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, download the Folk Fest app. It will come in handy as you move from one stage to the next and perhaps more importantly, you’ll save the five bucks you would have spent on the program.
The Food: You’re going to have to eat while at this shindig and unless you plan on spending a good portion of your time standing in the food lines, you will want to bring some of your own. Please remember that there are people on all sides in close proximity watching, so what you do here will have a major impact on your folk fest persona, especially if there are children involved. Trust me on this, if it says “Hostess” on the package, leave it at home. For this event you’ll want to buy in bulk, but if that’s not possible, at least make sure it looks like you did. No plastic bags please, only reusable containers made of BPA free recyclable plastic. I’d suggest glass but that won’t get through the security check (have I mentioned the rules?). Adding something “ethnic” to the menu will add significantly to your currency. Organic juices can be refreshing although this year I’ll be toting flavoured Perrier as I think it’s just retro enough to be cool. If what you really crave is a bologna sandwich, remember that Yves veggie slices are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and I dare say you will be safe as long as you don’t offer a bite to your vegan neighbour.
The Other Stuff: You’ll need a bag to carry all of this stuff in and I’d like to suggest something colourful and woven if at all possible. If you insist on leather just make sure it is well-worn and handcrafted by a local artisan from cows that have been raised for this purpose. Perhaps something that matches your belt (more about that tomorrow) would work. For some evening fun bring an inflatable beach ball and if you can find one with a “world” imprint, all the better. Unfortunately since this will be used to create hours of fun being tossed from one tarp to another as the night goes on, you won’t be getting it back so a trip to the dollar store may be your best bet. While you are there, pick up a couple dozen glow sticks as without them, no one will be able to see you dancing in the dark. A note of caution: While at the dollar store you will want to avoid anything that’s made in China.
Tomorrow: Stay tuned ‘cause you’re going to want to know what to wear.