Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a big, free music festival held in Golden Gate Park every year on the first weekend of October. James and I went for a couple of years after we moved to the bay area and before we had the kids. There is great music, and it can be a fun atmosphere, but it does get really crowded because, hello, it's a big free awesome bluegrass music festival in Golden Gate Park!
It was actually James' idea to bring the kids to HSB this year, which surprised me because James generally dislikes crowds, especially with the kids in tow. (It took a lot of convincing to get him to say yes to our Disneyland trip.) But he has been feeling particularly adventurous this fall, and we decided that with a little planning and a solid willingness to bail if necessary, no matter how early, it would be worth a go.
We invited some of our friends with kiddos and got a resounding round of Hell No's. Fair enough, friends. Fair enough!
We went as early as we could manage to get out of the house. It wasn't as early as I'd hoped, but it turned out to be early enough. The music was set to start at 11, we were nearing the park a little after 10. Parking can be a nightmare in the city under normal circumstances. For a free festival like this one, you've got to either (1) not drive - best option, but we didn't want to risk having to ride the bus while Henry was having a meltdown, (2) get there super super duper duper early, (3) park really really far, or (4) pay for parking... if you're lucky and there are pay lots available. Some of the nearby schools were opening up their parking lots/blacktop space for paid parking as PTA fundraisers, so we decided that was our best option. It was perfect. It was a bit of a walk from the school to the festival fields, but not too bad and the timing worked out such that the band on the main stage was just getting started as we arrived.
There are several stages at HSB, and each stage has a different lineup of bands and musicians. We assumed that we'd only get to see one band before we'd have to leave because of the babies, so we picked the main stage where Chatham County Line was playing first. James had checked this band out ahead of time and liked their music. If we were only going to get to see one band, this would be a good one.
The field was pretty full, but not completely. We snagged a spot for ourselves at the edge of the crowd - convenient for a quick getaway in case of a meltdown. We had packed food, water, the usual diaper bag essentials, and a few small toys.
We ended up getting to see two bands before we felt it was time to move on. Chatham County Line was great. I really enjoyed them. The second band, Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands was also good. Henry fussed for a minute when we arrived, but James strapped him into the Ergo and he was able to take a little nap. He slept through Chatham County Line. Calvin was his usual chill self. When he started getting bored, we snacked and played with stickers.
Sitting in the sun with James and the boys listening to good music in Golden Gate Park... I'll take it! Crowd and all ;)
After the second band we were all getting a little restless and the crowd was rapidly thickening, so James and I decided to quit while we were ahead. (An important lesson we are slowly learning!) We made our way out of the park and back to the car and then took some time to let the boys play on the playground of the school where we'd parked. So convenient! :) It felt like such a nice day, I wasn't ready for it to be over quite yet, so we decided to hit Mitchell's Ice Cream and take advantage of the fact that most of the city was headed to the bluegrass festival, which meant less crowds than usual everywhere else!
Anybody else go to HSB this year? Or take kiddos to music festivals?
Here's a clip of Chatham County Line performing The Carolinian at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.