best of the fest: nelsonville music festival

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dear family,

one of the things i love about us is that we’re willing to give things a try. we don’t put ourselves in a box more than we have to and for the most part, we make things work. we have a lot of fun and adventure in our lives because of those things. we’re great. let’s keep it up and add another to this crew!

love, me.

i know 9 mos pregnant me would not have been able to hang in for the entirety of nelsonville music festival last weekend but dammit if i wasn’t sad to miss out on the all the fun. i was really and truly grateful to head down on sunday as a family of three and just enjoy the day and atmosphere. i can’t say we were as invested in the acts as much as we’ve been in years past. it was more about taking in the atmosphere. maybe it was a little bit about making a promise to ourselves that we’d be back in full force, bigger and better than ever next year.

darla definitely knew the ropes this time and made it very known that she did not need us. that is until she wanted us to buy her something. i desperately wanted to just let her experience this last time down there as a trio in the way she see fit but damn if that girl isn’t having a hard time making good decisions right now. i know she’s a kid. but i’m just a bit flabbergasted at how she comes to the conclusion that things are a good idea sometimes…

anyway, i just want to say i’m thankful to the universe for making it possible for us to attend this past weekend, thankful for my husband and his energy levels, thankful for the weather, and thankful for the beautiful ohio people who make the weekend so magical. unless this next kid is born with that extreme allergy to sunshine or something of the like { please do not do this to spite me, universe. this is only a blog } our tix for next year are as good as bought. boughten? buyed? i buy?

pssst. read our full weekend of attendance from last year here.


how to take my kid to a festival

i would name this how to take your kid to a festival but i don’t know how to take your child to a festival. i just know how to take my child. hubster and i kinda think of ourselves as seasoned veterans at this point. so get ready for some pix in your face and then my rundown of the 2013 nelsonville music festival with our child in tow.

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if it looks like we just spent the weekend doing cool stuff against a beautiful back drop it’s because we did.

ok, so nelsonville music festival is just simply my favorite thing about living in ohio. yeah, i’m bolding that. this weekend is just magical for me every year. and every year gets a little easier with our little gal.

ok, so steps for taking our child to a music festival:

1. pick the right festival. for me nelsonville is hands down my favorite to bring kiddos. we’ve also done pitchfork a few times which is pretty doable and forecastle which didn’t seem to jive as well for a family affair but NMF seems as though it’s a music festival happening around a kids’ art camp. as i wrote last year, the main goal of the fest, in my opinion, seems to be creating a family friendly event. and it just works. it works really well. they put so much thought into making the children welcome. i love it. can you tell?

kid friendliness of this year: kids’ tent where darla painted murals, made sock puppets and put on plays, played at a water wall made of repurposed plastic bottles, painted masks, tried out different instruments and made a fairywreath crown. a really cool new addition was the bindlestiff family circus. they performed all day on saturday. darla also participated in a parade and had the most amazing pink jetpack custom-made for her out of balloons. she had her face painted on multiple days at multiple locations and beyond that the whole place is like a kid free-for-all. games of soccer and frisbee going and always a new friend to meet. and you gotta love a festival that moves everyone into the gymnasium during bad weather and organizes kids’ games.

2. be at peace with not really getting too close or getting to watch the bands. i’ve not been the best at this in the past but this year was better. this was due to the combination of our girl being more independent and my accepting the fact that i’m just going to have to be content to be in the presence of live music even if my eyes have to be fixed on a roving target.

3. be at peace with the roving target. mike and i have been able to become much more comfortable with darla’s independence. we’re getting into the age of “you can go anywhere you want as long as we can see each other” and sometimes i have to break out of my fear and trust that she’ll be ok. we have more practice now at trusting her own interactions with people and nelsonville is the perfect opportunity for her to exercise a little more independence from us: it’s a contained environment with trustworthy people most, if not all, of whom are fine with a 4-year-old stranger crawling up into their lap to cuddle. in the past i’ve felt guilty about her intruding into others space but i’ve learned that it’s also up to other people to give her the message if she crosses their boundary. and that is fear based thinking any way. several of our coolest interactions happened this past weekend because darla has no social boundaries. really, most people are more open than we are made to believe.

4.  choose your bribes wisely. i tried to bribe darla into being good for the whole festival with the promise of a tiara she had her eye on that she would receive on the last day. that was quickly shortened until the end of saturday when we spent a good number of hours on both thurs and fri standing at the tiara tent while darla tried the tiara on and stared at herself in the mirror. this was then further shortened to midday on saturday when we figured we might as well get it instead of spending many more awkward hours with the tiara lady. in the end it was much better to have something that we could take away if things weren’t going so nicely. also, save food and drink bribes until the very last straw. do not start these too early with her because you will end up in a vicious sugar cycle. also, don’t feed her after midnight.

5. be free and be open. taking darla anywhere means i have to be free and open-minded to whatever the experience is going to be instead of trying to manage the situation. sometimes i fail at this but i feel i did pretty excellent this past weekend. i had to remind myself that this was an experience for darla too and that it’s really in my best interest if she enjoys herself as much as possible in the ways she sees most fit. sometimes this means things happen that would normally be deemed outside the social norms {for some} like playing in the dirt for hours or walking around without shoes or adopting herself into a family of strangers. nelsonville is perfect for this. and really, parenting seems so much easier when those things can be tossed.

6. make a trade-off schedule in advance.  so, since some of the acts go on past darla’s bedtime we usually end up trading off nights for who takes her back early to bed. {and i use that early term loosely since camping means staying up a little bit late to tell spooky stories} this ensures that a) we each get a little bit of kid free time at the fest to enjoy some of the headliners  b) at least one of us is better rested for getting up with her early in the morning.  this was the first year we were proactive enough to make the schedule agreement first instead of making it up during the trip. talking about it ahead of time really helps. you are really smart and probably would have figured that out sooner.

7. go with friends who also have kids. and make friends with the other parents who brought their kids and also have better snacks than you. trust me, both these things are really helpful. this part means i’m not-so-subtly suggesting you should come with us next year.

well, that’s all i got on that. thanks for taking a look at a small bit of our festival experience. i’m really just trying to tell you all to join us next year. i promise you won’t be disappointed.


it takes a few days to recover from these weekends away, don’t it?

we drove on to athens on friday before heading to camp, then it was all nelsonville, all the time.










the weekend was a fine display of music. sunday was my favorite day, mostly because darla actually settled down for a nap on me so i was able to sit peacefully in the shade and listen but also because Dawes and M. Ward put on pretty excellent sets. Shovels & Rope were there and i’d say they won the hearts of just about everyone in attendance. I have a feeling i won’t be able to catch them in a venue as small as Rumba again.

i really love this festival. the people behind the curtain had a vision and i’m 100% a converted member of their church. darla spent hours in the kids’ tents and walked away with a handmade canjo, bluesband harmonica, tutu and she got to participate in a parade. i think the true aim of the festival is to make it a family and community event.

this is an excellent way to weed out all the douchey people we often come across at other festivals. no one is there to be seen in their wild, spandex hipster outfit. everyone is just there to have a good time. and be free.

as family friendly as it was, it was still A LOT of work to merge the wants and desires of a 3 year old with a camping, music festival weekend. DO NOT attempt this unless you are willing to weather tantrums, breakdowns, whining, crying and spasms of craziness. Oh, your kid might get a little upset as well.


i’m ready to buy our tickets for next year.

packing for nelsonville music festival


our tent is up airing-out in the garage and we’ve got the car packed. i am pretty amazed at the fact that we’re proactive about our trip to the Nelsonville Music Festival this year. i think we’re getting better at being grown-ups.

i’m really excited for the weekend. we’ve got good friends to hang with, some yummy food packed, the promise of absolutely gorgeous weather, and our destination spot is in the doorway of appalachia.

i have such found memories of our first Nelsonville Music Festival experience. darla was 16 months and she had a blast running up and down the pathways between the tents, just checking in on other folks’ campsites. i was having mini heart attacks that she was going to run right into someone’s campfire but that, of course, didn’t happen. momfearz.

hmmm maybe that should be momjeanz sister tumblr site. just a list of all the irrational momfearz i’ve had since darla was born. because every mom freaks out that she’s going to accidentally drop her child down a storm drain, right?

i digress.

anyway, the nelsonville fest holds a special place in my heart. i think it was the first time i said “you know what, ohio, you and i may have some things in common.” if you’re looking for a fun event for the weekend i highly suggest making the trip down. the music and food are sure to leave you fulfilled.

i also advise packing bubbles. mike and i brought bubbles the first year to keep D entertained and I ended up being some kind of bubble pied-piper. at least 50 kids swarmed and had a huge bubble party when i broke them out. yes, it was a good time.

let’s hope this year lives up. i look forward to sharing our photos with you when we return.