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Family Matters

Folk Fest with the Kids

July 20th, 2015

Thinking of hitting folk fest with the kids but never done it before? We chatted with one local mom who's a bit of a "folk fest with kids" expert to get some advice!

***Tickets to the festival are mostly sold out but can often be found either in weekend passes or daily passes on both Kijiji and the folk fest ticket swap page. Kids under 12 are free!

1. Parent to parent - do you have any advice for parents on how they can prepare their kids for the atmosphere and what the day will be like? Do you give them an idea of how long you'll be there?

The first year I took them I had the three older children (6,5,3) and Hailey. So I went Thursday and Friday night without the kids (adult time) and then took them for the weekend experience. They had previously been to different festivals so I told them we would be going to a festival all day for both days (with the option of leaving earlier if everyone was feeling done with the day). I told them it would be very busy and a fun loud environment. That it would be important for us to stay together and for the older one to check in with us if she wanted to wander more. We did buy two pairs of ear muffs for Rachelle and Hailey as they are more sound sensitive.

2. What are some must pack items when taking kids to a festival like the Folk Fest?

You NEED a tarp! And pegs to stick it to the ground. Our essentials look like this:

- Tarp & pegs. A big one that we can peg down and leave on the hill as a landing point all day and to crash for the night sessions by the main stage. Also serves as a rain shelter if needed.

- Carrier (buckle and wrap in case the second youngest needs a rescue too.

- Water bottles!!! (They have a refill station set up at the bottom Of the hill)

- Sunscreen, Hats, Rain gear, hoodies and long pants (usually left in the car so we can walk back for them in the evening when it gets cooler). 

- Food (food is available on the hill but gets pricey for a family). We usually bring sandwiches and hummus and veggies. We buy popcorn and green onion cake.

- Extra blanket to carry with us from stage to stage.

- Backpack for all of our stuff (the older two each carry a bag as well that we split food and water in if needed or extra clothes).

- Glow sticks for the kids when it gets dusk.

- Proper shoes or good walking sandals. Those hills are steep and you're up and down them all day.

- Hearing protection for those that need it.

3. Do you prepare any sort of safety precautions? Safe words, take pictures of them in what they are wearing, write numbers on their arms?

Sooooo I've totally lost a child at folk fest before. My first year there were three families and all our kids were running from the spray pad to the park at the bottom of the hill. She lost track of us(and us from her). Security is awesome and the whole area is fenced off so she wasn't lost more than a couple minutes. She was literally in front of me when I went to security to report. I do take a picture each morning of their attire and I try to make sure I have them in something I can easily spot in a crowd. I write my cell number w a sharpie in the inside of their arms and put liquid band aid on it to keep it on during the day. They have safe words. At the beginning of each day we talk through who we know that will be there that day & we have planned to meet up with or will be going with. The older kids have more freedom and often wander a little further so we have check in times or points and they are more vigilant. Overall it's a good environment and people look out for each other

Any other advice you would give to parents taking their kids to folk fest - or any other full day festival?

It's an awesome festival!!! So worth going even once! But don't set expectations too high the first time until you know what to expect. A one day or evening pass may be enough for some people or go the whole weekend and make it a yearly tradition to attend. The kids remember it year after year and as we go more they get better at knowing the group rules for going to festivals, staying safe and having fun. Stay hydrated! Because you get sun and wind and heat (or rain) all day, it will hit you hard if you're not careful. We go with another family every year. And pairing off with another group is totally the way to go! It gives you a parenting backup and extra adult voice if needed. Totally worth the companionship to save you sanity if the kids gets crazy. I hear that as the kids get older the experience gets a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable too! Just embrace the chaos and enjoy the experience for whatever it is. Because it only comes once a year. The music and sun and atmosphere is worth all the chaos and planning.

Erin Heard is an Edmonton Mom of four. Master of the household chaos.

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