|Rock on, Hangout!|
A festival experience is like no other. The energy alone is contagious - everyone is there to have a wonderful time, meet new, kind souls and smiling faces with similar interests, and of course, to see their favorite bands all in one place. We've thoroughly enjoyed the scene before and after baby. Before, we enjoyed having the opportunity to bring along bikes, hike without a lot of gear, and enjoyed not having to worry about 3 solid meals a day (haha). After baby, we still enjoy being able to see live music with our smallest little love, yet we do things slightly different than before! I wouldn't change it for the world!!
We took the littlest Lee to Hangout Fest - Gulf Shores, AL (May 20-22, 2011) for her first ever festie. She is a natural and loved every second of it, and we will certainly be back next year with our little one in tow.
Hangout Fest is located directly on the beach, and with us living 20 minutes from the beach here in GA, we knew it was a good one to start with. Omi is a beach baby - she LOVES the water, sand, and sun, so naturally, she had a wonderful time. She is also an "easy baby," and I have said that more than once with all sincerity. She laughs and smiles more often than not - a true delight to be around. I suppose that if she were on the crankier side, we would have thought twice about bringing her or would've planned a little differently.
|View from top of the sand mound.|
Speaking of planning, A LOT went in to making sure this festival went off without a hitch. Lots of snacks, drinks, baby carriers, coolers, sunscreen, hats, etc - typical baby stuff that doesn't need to be left behind! The biggest necessity (that I hope no one would forget) is ear protection. Children's ears are much more sensitive than ours to loud sounds, and it is a disservice to not provide protection for them. You wouldn't let your child in the sun without sunscreen, so it's the same concept with loud music/sounds to me. We took earmuffs and waterproof kids earplugs...so glad we picked up the earplugs!! The muffs were just too big, even though they're kids sized, so the plugs worked really well! She didn't like them being inserted because it literally suctions to your ear, but once I got them in, she was fine with it. I'm hoping the earmuffs will fit a little better next year. They are just too heavy right now.
|Note the Kelty Kids backpack on left (a must have for any Dad), and her beach tent!|
|Family fun and great tunes at the beach. What's not to love?! (**note earplugs!)|
Another definite perk to Hangout was the ability to go back to the hotel whenever needed and have a cool room, warm, comfortable bed, and free breakfast (not to mention the pool). We also made sure to pay a little extra for closer parking to the venue which was worth double the money now that I look back on it. We were able to leave the festival grounds as often as we wanted, and we made frequent pit-stops to the car throughout the day for extra supplies and to drop things off that we didn't need. The stroller stayed in the car until night-fall due to it's bulkiness in size and the difficulty level of pushing it through sand. It was definitely a necessity for the night time shows. She had a comfortable, safe, familiar spot to lay down right next to Mama and Deddy. She was set!
|The BEST part of waking up was having her there with us!|
Not only was Hangout a "child-friendly" event (meaning kids 10 and under were free - lots of fests are not this lenient), but they had friendly and responsible staff members on site at the kids stage helping children build sandcastles and play in the sand. A 15-20 foot mound of sand was the highlight of the trip for any child, and Hangout provided sand buckets and shovels to boot! I was ecstatic to see one of my favorites, Railroad Earth, play the kids stage while simultaneously playing with my daughter. Nothing beats that happiness and joy. Now THAT was the highlight of the trip for me.
|Believe it or not, she climbed it all by her big self! :)|
|I met a wonderful new friend during this time who came with her two kids (ages 2 and 4), and her brother's family too. All the way from Missouri!|
|Railroad Earth - a special treat in the sand|
-we get to take our kid! :)
- baby carriers ROCK.
- close parking
- great bands ROCK
- culture and kind folks are in abundance!
- hotel or camping, we havent camped with Omi yet, but the packnplay would be a necessity then
- no out-of-the-way drop-offs to grandparents' house
- kids get in free
- friendly, helpful, and courteous staff members
- security was more than accommodating (allowed us to bring in PACKED cooler)
- free water fountains
- accessibility to VIP bathrooms - this wouldn't have happened without her there, that's for sure! :)
|Opening song, and she was out|
- unkind, simply rude people.
Allow me to elaborate: We got a few unkind glares, and a few people felt the need to speak unkindly to us. 95% of the folks were kind-hearted and shot smiles...we were even applauded by a staffer for ear protection and by another man there with his pregnant wife during Warren Haynes' unbelievable set with Grace Potter. The expecting couple loved seeing Omi there having a blast playing in the sand - they, too, want to continue to enjoy festivals - with their growing family. But there is the 5% that wanted to voice their disapproval. We did hear: "She's out too late," (when she was asleep in her stroller - yeah) or the popular "Why would you bring your kid to a music fest?" But we also heard a lot of "Awe..I miss my kids!" And, like I said before, "Why not bring them?" She goes where we go, and we don't party like the rest of those fools who can't remember what band they saw when. It is a music festival for all ages. Sure, we could've had a blast like it was our honeymoon again without her there, but we chose to bring her on purpose! Haha. Really though, I felt an explanation was needed. Unfortunately, there are buffoons there who like to cause a raucous, but those fools are everywhere - college and pro sporting events, large cities, small cities, the airport, the neighborhood behind you. I mean, really. Parents are responsible for their children and their safety. Take cues from your kid- if she had had enough, she would have let us know, and we would have left in a heartbeat. But she was great and had a blast! Bluntly, judgmental and "concerned" people need to take a hike! Music fests, with or without the kids, are enjoyable, but I had a much better time experiencing it with the littlest Lee, who safe to say, had the best time of all!
|Naomi's first WP show - asleep! She wore herself out in the sand!|