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It’s that time of year again when everyone across the country starts gearing up for the Summer Music Festival Season. From Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee; From Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois to Austin City Limits in Texas rabid fans by the tens of thousands will begin flocking to music festivals in order to see their old favorites and new discoveries tear up the stage for their listening enjoyment. The festival season can be an amazing experience but can also easily turn into something of a trial-by-fire for the unprepared and uninitiated.
 
To help festival goers get the most out of their experience, Dish has compiled the following tips to not only make sure they get the most out of their festival time, but also come back in one piece.    
 
1. No Tickets = No Festival!
This may seem like a no-brainer but one might be surprised how many people don’t even get past this simple rule. Without festival tickets, wristbands or laminates would-be festival attendee won’t even get inside the gates, much less get so far as to have to worry about any other survival tips. Make sure to purchase tickets early from a reputable dealer. There are hundreds of people every year who wait until the last minute and spend big bucks on tickets from eBay or a scalper only to arrive at the front gates and discover they were given counterfeits. In this age of digital reproduction it’s child’s play for the unethical to create falsified passes that easily fool festival-goers, but won’t pass close inspection by festival staff. It’s a big risk to take only to lose out on hundreds of dollars and be totally disappointed when turned away. On the same note: be certain once tickets, wristbands, or laminates are in hand they do not get misplaced or taken off under any circumstances until after the festival is ended . Most festivals won’t replace lost tickets, wristbands or laminates for any reason whatsoever.
 
2. Pack Light and Pack Right!
You may be tempted to pack all of the essentials that might be needed during the festival but take only what is absolutely needed. A light but durable backpack or tote bag is a must for any festival in order to have everything at hand that will be needed during your visit. Inside It, one may carry such things as medication, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, personal hygiene products, plastic water bottle and a disposable or digital camera. Other essentials include foam ear plugs to protect your hearing and allow you to sleep undisturbed, perfume or tiger balm to place under the nose to mask unpleasant smells when using the portable facilities, and enough cash to last the entire festival and the trip home. The biggest essential that most festival goers forget is sunscreen and Chap Stick. No matter what the weather forecast, even an hour in the sun can cause major burning and ruin the festival experience entirely. Under no circumstances take anything to a festival that one cannot afford to lose and carry all valuables with you at all times or leave them in a property lock-up (many festivals provide these for a small fee). Festivals attract thieves and crooks just like any large gathering and valuables left within their reach will quickly disappear. A simple thing like putting a small padlock on your tent zipper or leaving any tempting valuables in the trunk of your car or even better in your hotel room can make all the difference in the world.
 
3. Forewarned is Forearmed!
Take the time to research as much about the festival and the surrounding area as possible. Every festival is different and educating oneself on the do’s and don’ts involved with each will save a lot of grief and frustration in the long run. Most major festivals have comprehensive websites that detail everything from festival schedules and line-ups to parking and lodging, as well as security and rules. While most festivals have a reputation for being “Anything Goes” affairs, that is rarely really the case. Most festivals have long lists of rules and regulations in place to ensure the safety and well being of everyone in attendance. In addition to all of this, it is always a good idea to know not only how to get to the festival grounds, but also the location of lodging for the duration whether it be camping onsite or staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast nearby. In this case, much like buying tickets early, booking lodging early is also an essential as available rooms tend to go fast during festival season. Also, be certain to check local weather reports and dress accordingly. No matter the location of the festival (large city park or remote farmland) be certain to treat locals with the same respect one would expect were the shoe on the other foot. The old axiom is “Nobody likes a tourist” and while many places gain large amounts of revenue from festivals, the last thing locals anywhere want is to be harassed by obnoxious and destructive festival goers who ransack their home and terrorize the people who have to live there.  A little respect goes a long way and most people who live in festival areas will be friendly and respectful so long as they are treated the same.
 
4. Co-Operate Fully With Security
All onsite security personnel will be in clearly defined uniforms with clear identification. The on-site stewards and security personnel are there in order to keep things moving safely and smoothly for everyone. Some items are banned or restricted at many festivals. Don't take banned items with you. The list of prohibited stuff will probably include: Professional cameras and recording equipment (to prevent bootlegging), garden flares, candles, fireworks and pyrotechnics, weapons or anything that can be construed as a weapon, glass and Styrofoam containers, illegal drugs of any kind,  PA and sound systems (to prevent breaches of noise limits), dogs and other animals. If security confiscates anything they are only doing what they have been directed to do by festival organizers. While attendees may not appreciate having property taken from them, these people are only doing their jobs and arguing with them will only make matters worse. Always be polite and cooperative with security because the bottom line is always this; at their discretion, anyone can be turned away for any reason and the last thing anyone wants is to be barred from the festival grounds over something that could have been avoided. These workers are often working for little to nothing for long hours in difficult conditions and the last thing they want is to deal with belligerent festival goers. If one finds themselves in conflict with security guards for any reason the best policy is to do whatever is asked and cooperate as fully as possible.  
 
5. Food and Hydration Are Key!!!
The biggest danger to festival attendees besides exposure and sunburn is dehydration. Standing in the glaring sun amidst thousands of people in the middle of a big field may not seem like much, but it is thirsty work. Try to drink as much water (or at least non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks) as possible especially if the weather is hot. Normal hydration should result in at least three urinary movements per day. Any less may indicate dehydration. The more dehydrated, the more likely one is to become tired and irritable and begin suffering from headaches. Dehydration also makes sunstroke more likely. There should be free water stations available throughout the festival site so take advantage of them as much as possible especially if indulging in alcohol or non-prescription drugs. Another important element is being sure to eat at least one hot meal a day in order to keep fueled up and ready to go. Festivals always have excellent first aid areas for those who don’t take good care of themselves, but the goal should be to spend as much time away from those places as possible.
 
6. Know Your Limits and Pace Yourself
There is absolutely no way possible at most festivals to see and do everything available so take your time and try not to overdo it. A good piece of advice is to map out all the acts and attractions that are most important to you and take the rest as it comes. Don’t try and do too much at once as that is a good way to use up all your reserve energy for the rest of the festival, resulting in missing even more due to exhaustion. The same rule applies to alcohol and drugs. Even though illegal substances are banned from festival spaces they always seem to find their way into the grounds and there is no doubt many people will be using something.  Know what your limitations are before partaking in anything illegal or otherwise. One of the worst things that can happen to festival attendees is a drug overdose or getting totally wasted on alcohol or any combination thereof. Don’t spend the rest of the festival in first aid centers or worse, the hospital. If it is absolutely necessary to partake, try and use some common sense and restraint.
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 99 - December 2017
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