Tips for Bringing Kids to a Festival
Taking kids to festivals can be a wonderful multi-sensory adventure, but let's not kid ourselves: It's not exactly relaxing. But you can minimize the stress and maximize the memories by taking some tips from those who have been there.
1. Use the opportunity to connect your kids with their community.
The people behind the tables are there to talk. Some of them want to sell you something, sure, but regardless, they're all looking to have nice conversations with nice families like yours. There is something to be learned at every table, and this is one of your best opportunities to show your kids how people connect with each other, and help them practice looking people in the eye, smi
2. Know when to go.
If you're visiting with kids who have an afternoon nap, go in the morning. Seriously. Unless you know for sure they'll nap in the stroller. If you're looking to avoid crowds, though, the last three hours of a weekend festival are usually the quietest. That also gives you the opportunity to interact more relaxedly with the people behind the table... believe us, they'll appreciate having someone nice to talk with as things wind down rather than stare blankly into space hoping someone will talk with them so they won't be tempted to shut down early.
3. Plan for the weather.
Berries grow well in sunny locations, so you'll want to wear sunscreen and bring hats. In fact, put sunscreen on before you drive to the farm, so that it has a chance to soak in. That way, it won't get all over your delicious berries.
4. Bring your own bags.
As you travel from table to table connecting with those behind it, they'll often have some printed information or freebie swag they'll invite you to take. You'll get tired of holding that stuff pretty quickly, so bring your own bag or backpack. It's even better if it's opaque and has sections; that way, you can secret some of the stuff that your kids collect that you may not want them having in the car or at home later (kazoos, anyone?); with festival swag, it's often (blessedly) out of sight, out of mind.
5. Bring supplies for kids who need to take a break.
There may not be ample seating (or it may all be taken), so bringing along something to sit on is essential; a couple of towels usually do the trick. Drinks and snacks you bring from home (if allowed) will be more healthful and will cost less than what you can purchase, but also designating time for treats (at the end! as a reward for good behavior!) can be a useful incentive.
6. Prepare your kids for the experience.
A little preparation goes a long way. Visit the festival website in advance to learn the details to make your trip easier: Where is the parking? Is there a cost? How far from the festival IS the parking? Is there an entrance fee? Are pets welcome? Is there a section of the festival reserved for adults? You can often print a map right from the website, so you can plan in advance what tables you'll be visiting. Spend the drive to the festival reminding your child(ren) of all the rules because it will be difficult to focus once you arrive and jump right into the thick of the experience.
7. Easy kitchen projects are part of the fun.
Kids love to cook with their harvest, and you can cede control to them almost completely by just letting them make a simple tart. The easiest, most non-cooking option here is to supply some prepared pie crust, powdered sugar, and whipped cream in a can. Let the the kids fold berries into pie crust tarts, then sprinkle them with sugar and/or dollop with whipped cream. Other favorites at our house are adding berries to homemade ice pops and smoothies. Delicious.
8. The berries won’t last long.
Chances are, they'll be eaten quickly. But if your pickers were more diligent than hungry, keep in mind that these berries won’t stay nice for as long as the rough-and-ready (and, let's be clear: inferior) varieties you'll buy at a supermarket. It’s simplest to freeze: Just rinse the berries, gently pat them dry, and lay them on a pan in a freezer for a couple of hours. Then transfer them to a sealable plastic bag.
9. Plan your next berry fix.
Did everyone have fun? Then mark your calendar for the estimated date of the next crop of berries, consider planting a berry bush in your yard, or point out a new kind of berry or fruit that your child might want to taste the next time you visit a local market. You've given them a taste of berryliciousness.
10. Bond over a Berry Book.
There's always a way to incorporate reading into any adventure. Read these books about berries before, during, and after the experience to connect the fun of a hands-on activity to the joy of reading.
Jamberry, by Bruce Degan
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
The Berry Book, by Gail Gibbons
Berry Magic, by Teri Sloat
© 2019 KidsOutAndAbout.com
Katie Beltramo, a mom of two, is KidsOutAndAbout's Albany editor and also blogs at Capital District Fun.