Tips For Keeping Cool With Kids At Telluride Bluegrass

Telluride Bluegrass holds a special spot in my heart. It was Bluegrass that first brought me to this valley in 1997, and it was Bluegrass that made me return. When my husband, Andy, and I first considered moving here, Bluegrass was on our “top ten” list. For me, it’s not just about the fabulous music. It’s everything the festival embodies—the friends I get to see again, the time on the tarp and in the river. It’s summer’s arrival, with days so long it sometimes feels as if there are two packed into one. And it’s the reminder of everything wonderful that’s come into my life—almost 7 years ago to the day, I had my first child, Siri, followed by another, Quincy, 3 years later. Bluegrass, in my mind, is a celebration of everything good in life.

One of many Bluegrass treats

One of Telluride Bluegrass’s many treats

That said, my children don’t always share my love for Bluegrass. The festival can be hot, and the entertainment (for them), thin. Tempers can flare when there’s an act the parents want to see, but the kids need a nap. Here are 3 tips for keeping Bluegrass fun.

1.    GET A GAME PLAN: I love nothing more than wrapping myself in a sarong and getting my hippy grove on at Bluegrass. But before I do that, I get organized, like geeky, flowchart organized. Given that kids can’t last for more than two hours at Bluegrass, even with a sun shelter, Andy and I break up festival days into chunks: Acts that we’re willing to “listen” to with kids (meaning we’ll be at the river, at the kid’s tent, buying ice cream, etc. but still at the festival) and acts that we’re not. For those cherished performers, we’ll either tag-team it, or get a sitter. (Get over feeling like a bad parent for ditching your kids for a few hours—everyone will have more fun). Try Annie’s Nannies if you don’t have someone locally. Have the sitter pick up and drop off at Bluegrass to maximize tarp time. Also consider doing NightGrass—the sitter can just hang with the kids while they’re sleeping.
2.    GET UP EARLY AND GET IN THE TARP LINE: When I first moved to Telluride, I thought those people camping out or lining up by the gates at 5AM were nuts. Now I’m one of them. Whether you’re looking for a good spot to set up a sun shelter or looking a better place for the whole family to enjoy the music, you’ve got to either sleep out, sleep with someone with a VIP pass, and or get up early. Given that our sun shelter’s busted and I’m happily married, I opt for the third option. And I do so willingly. We usually organize a tarp group with other families (see geek reference #1) and take turns rising early. I love waking up at 5, piling on warm clothes, grabbing a cup of coffee, and slowly biking through town at that hour of the day. The light inches up the canyon walls, and town is quiet. Even from Main Street, you can hear the river roar. The smell of lilacs hovers in the air and mixes with the dust that’s still settling from last night’s parties. Once in line, there’s a peace in watching the town you love awaken. There’s camaraderie to be found. And everyone’s happy with you all day long: you did the deed and scored a sweet spot—what could be better?

Settling in for the evening act at Bluegrass

Settling in for the evening act at Bluegrass

3.    MAKE BLUEGRASS FUN FOR EVERYONE: We treat Bluegrass like a 4-day birthday in our house. We buy treats everyday and let our girls pick out a new Bluegrass outfit—princess skirts, tiaras, and twirling wands anyone? Zia Sun gets lots of business from us. We also swim in the river; sometimes, we even bring tubes down to the festival. We seek out non-Town Park venues—kids love getting up close to the performers at Elks Park, and if you get to Elks early enough, you can even sit in the shade. Pack a cooler full of fun kid things—juice boxes, frozen yogurt sticks, pasta salad, slices of watermelon, etc. If you can stomach it, let kids pick out one “junk” snack like Cheetos. Those orange fingers are worth the extra half hour at the show. Finally, be sure to swing by the first aid tent for earplugs if you have little ones or need extra sunscreen—2 small things that go a long way in keeping everyone happy.

Here’s wishing you a great and successfully paced Bluegrass this year. If all goes well, you’ll not only have happy kids and a whole lot of fun. You’ll have festival buddies for life.

The following two tabs change content below.

Emily Brendler Shoff

Emily Brendler Shoff found true love when she moved to the Rockies for her freshman year at Colorado College in 1994. Her love affair with the mountains hasn’t wavered since. She writes, teaches, and makes cookies for her favorite people in Telluride, Colorado.

Latest posts by Emily Brendler Shoff (see all)

One Response

  1. admin says:

    Great piece, Emily. My planning mostly entails coming into town on the motorcycle so I can zip home between sets to walk the dog.