“So, we’re only going to be there a few hours,” my husband said as I piled yet another bag on top of the growing pile of bags stacked precariously in the stroller. We had already decided there was no room for the baby in the stroller, on account of all the stuff we felt we had to bring into the Jamboree Music Festival in Silverton two weekends ago – Elodie’s first-ever summer music festival.
We were, indeed, loaded down with a whole lot of gear. Baby on my hip, I assessed the pile.
Tarp, ground pad for on top of tarp, big blanket for on top of pad, small blanket for on top of big blanket: all necessary.
Baby sling: necessary.
Ear plugs: totally necessary.
Ten diapers, enough to change her twice an hour for as long as we’d be in the festival… maybe a little overkill, but, then again, probably necessary.
Of course she needed her sunhat with the chinstrap, but also an extra sunhat with chinstrap, in case the chinstrap breaks and the hat blows away in the wind, if there is wind.
And if there’s wind we really should have the foldable travel bed, with the umbrella that goes over it, so she can stay out of the wind.
And Calendula lotion, if she gets windburn on her cheeks, if she won’t lay in the bed when it’s windy. If it gets windy.
Also vital: three changes of clothes, four pairs of socks, extra pair of booties, one fleece hat, one winter snowsuit, one sweatshirt with hood.
Not vital, but I’m bringing it anyway: The other cute sundress. And the drool bib and sun hat to match. And the rhinestone-studded baby sunglasses from Mamie. It is a festival, after all.
Finally, I found one area where we could slim down. I removed the second plastic baggie containing three scoops of powdered baby formula from the cooler. I felt good about this reduction, since I still had another plastic baggie with three scoops, enough to make six ounces of formula, plus the 5 oz. bottle of expressed breast milk. And, of course, two easy-to-access breasts.
We were, after all, only going to be there a few hours.
“OK, I think that’s everything,” I said, and watched with a mix of pride and amusement as Craig struggled to steer the stroller from behind the mountain of baby gear loaded inside. “I think it’s less stuff than when we went to the beach, at least,” I reminded him as we slowly picked our way across the gravel parking lot and towards the festival entrance.
I had always watched festival families with a touch of awe. Plenty of adult festival-goers, who only have themselves to take care of, have a hard enough time keeping track of their own hats and shoes, staying sunscreened and hydrated, and not getting separated from their group. But festival families seem to have a handle on all of that, and more. As more and more of our friends starting popping out kids in the last few years, I started studying their festival techniques, thinking that someday we, too, would someday be one of those flawless and unruffled festival families.
And there we were, steering a boatload of crap into the mellowest music festival in the world, dropping things along the way and not knowing where the things we actually needed were actually located. Like the pacifier. Or the white medical tape to keep the earplugs in with. For the record, of all the things we brought to the Jamboree last weekend, we ended up actually using just these: one ground pad, one blanket, two diapers, one sunhat with chinstrap, one warm hat, and one sweatshirt with hood. We erected the umbrella for fun.
Just because you’ve been to a thousands music festivals doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to know the best way to go to your first music festival with baby, I discovered.
So, last weekend, this festival family took a few tips from some of Telluride’s more practiced festival families.
1. Stake out a good location in Kelty City. Our friend Mike G. waits in line at the festival gate all night, not to get the closest-to-the-stage tarp spot, but rather to stake a claim on the coolest corner in the sunshade-riddled back area of the festival, AKA Kelty City. It’s super family-friendly and fun, but also offers tykes (and perhaps a few over-festivaled adults) some shade and quiet time. The best scenario, G. says, is to have both the upfront locale and the mellower zone in back.
2. Bring plenty of what you need, and none of what you don’t. Our neighbors Scott and Sara have festival packing down to a science. I’ve watched the process from our adjoining front driveways, and I can liken it to packing for a long backpacking trip or an overseas plane ride. They don’t carry in anything extraneous, but everything else has its own easy-to-access location. Kids Peter and Jack are also expected to help out in the moving-into and out-of Town Park process.
3. Be realistic. My good friend Elizabeth’s secret to Bluegrass With Baby success is simple: Bring lots of snacks. And when all else fails, leave the kid with grandma.
Elodie’s trial-run at the Silverton Jamboree allowed us to see that being one of those watertight festival families takes quite a bit more planning, organization and forethought than we ever knew. This weekend, my goal was to reduce our festival-going pile by half, taking in more of what we need and less of what we don’t. We managed to do that, although I still couldn’t resist bringing in the rhinestone-studded sunglass, just because…
And while we had less stuff, had packed better and overall had a smashing good time with Elodie at Bluegrass, we learned another good lesson. There is no such thing as a flawless Festival family, just one that is willing to roll with the punches.
Elizabeth perhaps put it best. We were lounging under the communal Kelty, AKA the Telluride Romper Room, while her daughter Charlotte spun in circles with Sage in the grass, babies Lily and Reagan cooed at the sky, and Elodie was blissfully asleep in her buggy. “There are stressful Bluegrass moments,” she said, “but really good ones, too.” I recalled the communal meltdown of just an hour before, when all the children in a three-tarp radius started fussing all together, as if on cue. I was hot, Elodie was tired and despite our best intentions of being perfectly organized and calm I still couldn’t help but feel a little parental anxiety creeping in: Is it too loud? Is she going to be hot in the long-sleeve shirt? Should I disinfect that rattle?
Yet all was well at Kelty City at the moment, and from the smiles radiating from kids and parents alike, I decided that a little bit of festival-going anxiety was normal, and well worth the under-blue-skies Bluegrass with Baby bliss we all were drunk with.