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Thread: Festival camping advise

  1. #1
    Registered User lex's Avatar
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    Default Festival camping advise

    Hello, Folks.

    I'm signed up for the upcoming Delfest Mandolin Academy in Cumberland, MD and am anticipating a four day/three night learn-a-palooza where I sweat through industrial strength antiperspirant and ruin multiple shirts due to nerves. I'll be stepping way outside of my comfort zone musically but that's not the only thing I'm concerned about. I also don't really how to prepare for the camping aspect of the festival either. Niavely, I assumed adding "mandolin" to the top of my standard multi-day camping list would be adequate but, after a teeny bit of searching on the internet, I realize this is not the case. It would be awkward to eat rehydrated beef bourgogne straight out of a bag while the site next door has a mini-kitchen, dining table, and rocking chairs. I definitely don't want to be a bad neighbor. So, I was wondering if some of the more experienced mandolin campers might be able to answer a few quick questions.

    Should I bring a chair/stool or is it easier to plan on standing to play?
    Is a sunshade canopy type thing a good idea?
    What sort of meals do you pack? Pasta and oatmeal or something more exotic?
    I have a fairly inexpensive Eastman, that's left handed, with and oval hole so, I'm not worried about leaving it alone but do people usually carry around their instruments the whole time?
    In your opinion, what is one less common item essential to making festival camping a success?

    Thanks for your help,
    Lex

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    I have folding camp chairs as well as some folding stools I bought at Wal-Mart that I take to festivals. Take the things that will make you feel comfortable. You generally integrate with your surroundings. They will have chairs and tables, it isn't bad form for you to have the same.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Festival camping advise

    I take a cot or Air bed. I do like one of those pop out canopies to block the sun and have a little shade or maybe Shelter from a light drizzling rain.
    As far as cooking I'll take some of those complete meals that you just warm up and use a sterno canned heat over at tiny little stove. I take a small cup to make coffee in I have a really neat French press single thermos cup that all you do is put the coffee in the bottom it's screens the grounds and fill it with hot water makes a good cuppa coffee
    You do need to prepare for different kinds of weather check the weather forecast. If I haven't used my tent in a while and there's a chance of rain I get some sealant to seal the seams so they don't leak. I am 65 years old and I've been camping since I was 10 years old sometimes with a trailer, sometimes a pop up sometimes just the tent even just the back of my car at festivals most of my life . One thing you can count on if you there needed it--you will have forgotten it. Just relax and roll with things as they come and get those wonderful blisters on your fingers Most of all don't forget you came to play music and to learn.
    .

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Quote Originally Posted by lex View Post
    would be awkward to eat rehydrated beef bourgogne straight out of a bag while the site next door has a mini-kitchen, dining table, and rocking chairs.
    I'd get over that awkwardness right now. The next spot over might have an RV that costs more than your house (not an exaggeration
    at all), drinking a bottle of wine from their wine rack. Or it might be me on the motorcycle, using a saddlebag as a table, inhaling my intoxicants (where legal) because it packs smaller. Do your own thing, because everyone does it differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by lex View Post
    Should I bring a chair/stool or is it easier to plan on standing to play?
    Even on the bike I pack a small chair. Standing gets old when you have no other option.

    Quote Originally Posted by lex View Post
    What sort of meals do you pack? Pasta and oatmeal or something more exotic?
    Even on the bike I'll stop at the store before setting up to get stuff to cook over the backpacking stove. But our festival machine is usually a VW camper with a stove and fridge, so menu selection depends on how much effort we want to expend. Freeze-dried food gets old, and it's expensive, so I save that stuff for when it's been a long day and I'm lazy. A piece of meat, and some fried up potatoes and onions, is pretty easy even on a camp stove. Instant oatmeal is a staple if I don't feel like frying a couple of eggs.

    I have a fairly inexpensive Eastman, that's left handed, with and oval hole so, I'm not worried about leaving it alone
    No one knows what it is when it's in a case, and people will steal anything that isn't nailed down; they'll figure out if it's a Loar when they get home. That said, I leave mine in the vehicle if it's not too hot, which it usually isn't in the Seattle area. If on the bike, I'll lock the case and run a cable lock through the handle/strap loops of the case to the bike's luggage rack. Hasn't walked off yet, and if it does, it's probably a $200 beater I found somewhere (currently the $199 Michael Kelly).

  5. #5
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Pack those things that make YOU comfortable! Yes, a chair or stool of some sort is good. You will want to sit and relax when you get back "home" after tromping about playing with a bunch of new folks. A cooler for that which needs refrigeration, a stove or grill (I pack a Weber) for that which must be hot, you can boil water for coffee on a grill but, a small stove is a little less fiddling. Some sort of awning for sun or drizzle I used to keep an old army poncho and a couple of lengths of rope to tie to nearby trees.
    A spare seat for a guest is nice. I have not gone to an overnighter in a while but, I can pack for one pretty quickly if need be.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    If possible rent an RV motor home for the weekend, I have never been to Delfest but I would imagine that they will have consession stands selling food.....Just make the best of it and learn what to do the next time you try it, above all try and have fun...

    Willie

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    I bring two instrument cases. One hard case for the car drive out and when not playing the instrument, and one extremely light soft case I can sling on my back, for walking around the grounds, going from jam to jam etc.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Out here on the left coast, typical tent camping at a festival is more like early 1900s tent camping or even safari tent camping than backpack tent camping. Folding cots, folding chairs, outside rugs lounge chairs and other patio/park/picnic comfort items are pretty common to see. It's not that backpack tent camping is never done at festivals, but for nearly a week where you're not hiking around from one campsite location to another, you can actually make a temporary home and make yourself more comfortable. I've seen some folks go all-out and make a full home out of their tents, with end-tables and lamps, with real-looking bedroom and living room, pictures on the wall, private bathrooms with sun-showers, the whole nine yards.

    That doesn't necessarily mean you have to re-tool your backpacking camping setup if you don't have time or money, but it's just to give you some ideas of what you can do if you want to.

    As far as jams and workshops are concerned, I'd recommend bringing a light and fairly compact, but comfortable folding chair. Lots of us old folks with back issues can't stand and play anymore and it's sort of impolite to stand up in front of other people who have to sit, blocking their view of the workshop or the jam circle with your backside. This is especially true in a workshop where everyone needs to be able to see and hear the people leading the workshop, but it also applies to jams. In some hotter, more competitive jams, standing in front of people and closing the circle within an outer circle of otherwise sitting players is considered acceptable, but as someone who now has to sit, I just consider it rude, and a lot of other folks do also.

    As far as cases are concerned, mandolins do pretty well in dedicated backpacks and gig bags, but while in them mandolins are also more vulnerable to damage by someone accidentally kicking, bumping, tripping over or stepping on them. I'd say decide your case situation based on how hard your mandolin would be to get replaced or repaired after getting damaged on the first night of a festival. Also, expect dust, sand and all kinds of normal camping dirt on your instruments; if your instruments are too nice for that, consider keeping them in the case or leaving them home.

    And out at some of the bigger and more wild festivals that are happening, generally I wouldn't leave any instrument that I care about out unsupervised. Some of the smaller festivals run by local organizations may not have any problem though. Again, decide based on how hard your mandolin would be to get replaced.

    Generally your clothes should be comfortable for walking and for the temperatures and weather conditions that you expect to encounter. Out here in Southern California during the summer, we dress for 85 to 110 degree (F) temperatures and we try to hide out in the shade during the day when it is really hot, only coming out after the sun is down with our instruments for jamming. Sometimes warmer clothes are needed for night time too, or light, full covering clothes to protect from mosquitoes. Oh, and never apply bug repellent or sunscreen to areas of your body where your instrument might touch such as hands, arms, even legs if you're wearing short clothing. These liquids tend to eat most good instrument finishes.

    Also, keeping instruments in a car may be a bad idea; most instrument glues begin to let loose starting at around 130 degrees (F), which is easily in range of the inside of of a car with the windows only cracked on a sunny hot summer day. Trunks of cars are even worse.

    This may all make a camping festival sound difficult, but really they are some of the most enjoyable musical experiences you can have. As has been mentioned, just make yourself comfortable, and also get plenty of sleep before hand because you may find yourself jamming until 4:00 in the morning.

    Have a great time!

    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Sounds like your going to sleep in your car and not do any cooking, don't fret, that's what some folks do, if that's the case, bring a folding chair, water& snacks, blanket , and eat main meals from the canteen/food trucks. For a single person, that is the easiest and
    possibly least expensive way to go...enjoy.
    2019 The Loar LM700 VS ( Intact )
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Make sure you take something to record your workshops. At some point you'll reach overload mode, and you'll be able to work on things for a year or more if you have them recorded.
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp
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  14. #11
    Registered User lex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Thanks for all the great advise.
    It looks like I'll be picking up a folding chair or two.
    Mike Stewart I'll probably end up eating a lot of oatmeal and eggs are a fantastic idea! Not so good in a backpack but fine in the trunk of a car.
    Dhergert I never thought about chemicals in bug repellent eating through finishes. Thanks for the tip!
    Don Grieser Thanks for the reminder! I would have definitely forgotten to bring my recorder if you hadn't mentioned it.
    Timbofood The first time I read through your message I initially that Weber made both mandolins and BG Festival specific stoves. Then I remembered that Weber is more famously a grill manufacturer.

    I really appreciate all the helpful information from everyone.

    Lex

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Folding camp chairs with armrests are terrible for playing a stringed instrument. Find a chair or two with no armrests.

    There was time in my younger days when I played between 12 and 18 outdoor festivals every summer. Between playing shows on stage, jamming, doing workshops, and socializing with everyone at the fest, I quickly figured out that cooking food was not going to happen. I'd take a cooler with plenty of potables, and stuff like granola bars or a bag of cookies. Meals were more easily purchased from concessionaires or at a cafe in whatever town was close by. Preparing food also means cleaning up afterwards. There are more things to do at a festival than domestic chores. Have fun playing tunes and let someone else make food for you.
    Last edited by Warren H; May-14-2017 at 9:57pm. Reason: Second grade spelling errors.

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    I know I am not the only one to eat Top Ramen dry and sprinkle the seasoning packet on it. Actually not so bad! Tuna, straight out of the can. Yep! Rip open the $0.88 mash potato pack and pour luke warm water into it, stir and eat. Been there, done that...
    A "lot" of oatmeal, not such a good idea (unless you are used to it).

    We have also done many rather elaborate camp dinners with a good wine paring. In the end, the Top Ramen dinners accompany some of my best memories. In other words, don't worry too much about about the food aspect.

    If you partake, bring a good supply of adult beverages. Both for yourself and to hand out. If you do not drink, still bring some to hand out. You will have acquaintances in no time. Preferably local brew. Having a unknown micro brew on hand is a great conversation starter!

    If someone showed up with little more than a sleeping bag and ice chest with their local brew to share, I would be more than happy to share everything I had as well.

    Some sort of chair is a good idea. Past that, whatever you need to feel comfortable "camping". If you are fine roughing it, no problem!
    Robert Fear
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    Registered User Chanmandolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Delfest is fantastic! You will feel right at home at the Academy.

    My tip for your less common essential..... Headache and Body Ache Meds! After a few days with the tunes and heat I personally always need these!
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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Never been to Delfest but for Winfield the essentials include clothes for all seasons, mud boots, and earplugs. The jams never stop and easily can be right outside your camper, or tent for you youngsters. A comfortable bed becomes more important as the years pass. I haul a large number of chairs but I host a big jam and it's part of the deal. Would be fun to try to downsize.
    Mike Snyder

  19. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Quote Originally Posted by Warren H View Post
    Folding camp chairs with armrests are terrible for playing a srtinged instrument. Find a chair or two with no armrests...
    Amen, that's why you need at least one of these.

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Trademark...d=actual_color
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Spare strings and tuner battery

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  22. #18
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Poncho. Western MD is notoriously fickle. Camel back for water on the go.

    It sounds like you're trying to go on a small budget, which is certainly doable. That said, vending will give you lots of food options at most fests. Don't forget to budget for mercy if you are the type to buy cd's. Oh, one last thing: in the land of portapotties, a personal supply of decent toilet is a wise choice.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Eastman El Rey, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Here's a couple of things I have learned. You need at least 3 chairs. You need an upright one to play in. I play old time, so we are always sitting down; maybe bluegrass guys stand up. But, you are there 24 hours a day, so there is lots of time when you are not playing, and it is nice to have a loungy chair for relaxing. The third chair? You always need one more than the people playing, so you can invite people to join you in the free chair. I actually bring 6 or 8, so it is easy for folks to stop by.

    You definitely need some sort of shade. You might think your tent will work, but they are hot in the sun, and you will want to be out in the breeze. Sunburn is unpleasant, and since you will be outside all day, shade is nice.

    Nobody will care what you eat, except that if you look lonely, they might invite you over. It is nice to have something to share, if so. I've never been to delfest, but my understanding is that alcohol is popular. I also have drinks to share if people stop by, usually water or fizzy water.

    You didn't ask about this, but it gets dark at night. It's nice to have dim light, so you can cheat off the guitarist for chords. Bright light is hard and unpleasant, but dim light is inviting and you can see your friends.

    Last thing:. Lots if people walking around would join a jam if asked, but don't​feel confident enough to invite themselves. Ask them to join you.
    Last edited by A 4; May-14-2017 at 11:31pm. Reason: Typing on a phone is hard

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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Many years ago I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. I had my campground routine perfected to an art. All of my meals consisted of ramen noodles or crappy backpacker meals (I had to pack as light as possible to do high mileage). I'd roll into the campground and try to look as pathetic as possible with my ramen noodles or mac-n-cheese and tiny one-person tarp (I didn't even carry a tent). 9 times out of 10 the folks next to me with the fancy RV, burgers, beer, and margaritas would see me and invite me over for food and drinks. I'd share all my stories from the trail and they'd feed me food and drinks. Maybe I'll bring back my old routine at Rockygrass this year

  25. #21
    Registered User varmonter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    I have a trabel trailer.i can hide instruments inside
    And lock the camper.ir doesnt get too hot inside.
    Chances are you will be too busy playing to ever
    Leave it out of sight..theives usually look for oppurtunity.a grab and run sort of thing. So if
    Its too hard they wont go for it.that being said
    Leave the loar in the safe and bring the eastman...

  26. #22
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    Minimum: Clothes for different situations. Mandolin, tent, chairs, beer(liquid), sleeping bag, flash light. Shelter if alone.

    Depending on the fest, I don't want to spend my time cooking and cleaning and there are usually good food vendors or friends to feed me

    These fests are often my vacations.... and for a vacation, it does not get much cheaper so I don't mind spending money over the fests.

  27. #23
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    What kind of tent do you have? For festival camping, you don't necessarily need one you can stand up in, but a 4 person size is best. Sleeping set-up is important. I hate cots and prefer and good ground mattress of some kind.
    Car camping is easy, but find out if the festival allows you to camp with your car parked beside you or if you have to park in a separate area? Places like the Kerrville Folk Festival do not allow your car beside your camp.
    I have a folding camp table that makes cooking so much easier. Cooking on the ground is fine for backpacking, but why do it if you don't need to? Take a small ice chest. You don't need a small backpacking type stove. Bring your Coleman two burner if you have one. A straight normal height chair is necessary for playing while seated. Those fold-up cloth seat chairs are not good.
    Watch your instrument and don't leave it in the tent or car (especially if in the sun). A gig-bag is nice, but that depends on how heavy your regular case is.
    Jammin' south of the river
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  28. #24
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    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    from experience - these led lanterns are a night jam's best friend:
    https://www.amazon.com/Etekcity-Portable-Outdoor-Batteries-Collapsible/

  29. #25

    Default Re: Festival camping advise

    --the small flashlights that can also be configured as a lantern. Extra batteries.
    --A tent which is large enough to house you and your instruments and your clothes, with a good fly system and/or tarp.
    --Lots and lots of picks.
    --A bunch of garbage bags with which you can quickly rainproof even the stuff in your tent.
    --Short-cut rubber boots if it might rain. (It will rain)
    --Butane campstoves are great--inexpensive, compact, efficient. I agree with everyone about not planning fancy cooking from scratch, but you want to boil your hot brown drink when you want it, and a cup-of-noodles with grated cheese added is sometimes the ideal quick cheap meal.

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