festival rules

The Unwritten Rules of Festival-Going

Music festivals are not anything new. Hundreds are held every year around the world and hundreds of thousands of people flock to them faithfully to enjoy the music, the company of friends, food, drink, and the overall adventure of it all. These festivals have become an integral part of bluegrass music, having gained popularity in the ‘60s and continuing through today.

With so many people attending these events—Huck Finn Jubilee, for example, had an attendance of an estimated 30,000 over the course of three days—it is vital to keep in mind the unspoken rules of festival attendance. After all, it is a weekend of camping and revelry among strangers (who can eventually become friends!) and limited luxuries.

Before packing up and setting off, keep in mind these dos and don’ts of attending a bluegrass music festival.

The Dos

  • Bring a tarp.
  • A tarp will save your stuff (and yourself!) from getting dirty while enjoying the music, especially if you’re tent camping.

  • Wear plenty of sunscreen.
  • Standing out in the sun all day can and will cause sunburn. Don’t ruin your weekend by turning into a lobster!

  • Bring toilet paper and wet wipes.
  • Shared shower facilities mean you are limited in the amount of time you can shower over the weekend. Wet wipes are great for a little quick maintenance, and toilet paper is for…well, obvious reasons. Having an extra roll handy is convenient should one of the toilets be momentarily out of stock.

  • Use a flashlight.
  • It’s a park, not a baseball stadium! If you need to use the restroom at night, you’ll be thankful you have some light to navigate through the field of tents. And don’t forget extra batteries.

  • Leave room for others.
  • Tent camping space is limited at Huck Finn Jubilee, so don’t spread out and claim an acre for yourself. Everyone is there to enjoy the music—don’t force people out!

  • Drink water.
  • It might be fun to party with friends and drink alcohol at your campground or the Beer Garden, but—whether you drink alcohol or not—staying hydrated will allow you to have fun longer and avoid the possibility that you’ll miss out on great acts because you’re not feeling well.

  • Practice pitching the tent.
  • New tent? Don’t think it will be easy-peasy to get it set up on the first go. Make sure you know how it works before spending all day setting up camp.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t be a slob.
  • With so many people, there’s bound to be trash. Trash cans are placed throughout the park, so there’s no reason for anyone to litter.

  • Don’t bring large furniture.
  • There is only so much space on the campground, especially for tent campers. Unless you plan on inviting everyone around you to sit on your futon, leave it at home.

  • Don’t jam all through the night.
  • After the music on stage has stopped, it’s natural—and expected—for the bluegrass to continue on the campground. But people want to sleep after a while, so make sure to pack it in at a reasonable hour.

  • Don’t block other people’s view.
  • Canopies, high-back chairs and umbrellas are generally not allowed in the audience area at festivals. Even if they are permitted, it is impolite to use them.

  • Don’t record every set.
  • The prevalence of smartphones and tablets with recording capabilities has made it impossible to go to a concert or festival without someone holding their mobile device up in the air, recording what should be appreciated live. Don’t be that guy!

  • Don’t smoke in a crowd of people.
  • If you’re a smoker, go to the designated smoking areas and dispose of all butts in the proper containers.

  • Don’t leave valuables unattended in your tent.
  • Although bluegrass festivals are meant to bring people together, there are, of course, unsavory characters who will steal your stuff at the first chance they get. Leave your jewelry at home or lock your valuables in your car for the duration of the festival.

Bluegrass music festivals are a way for families and friends to get together and share a fun, lively experience. Following both the written and unwritten rules of festival-going will help make the experience even more enjoyable for everyone, ensuring that Huck Finn Jubilee can carry on for years to come.

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I am a blue grass fan and loving husband and father. Proudly born and raised in California. I am an IT professional, but have always had a passion for writing.

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