Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shakori Hills / GrassRoots Festival

It's been an exciting weekend here in the Triangle! All kinds of fun family events to go to, and great weather to top it all off. Were you like us and tried to do it all? Hopefully you were smarter than us, because I am now beat and my house is a mess. But even though not a lick of laundry was done, it was worth it. Especially that Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival.
I think the GrassRoots Festival is a classic Triangle area event. It is held twice a year, but the spring one seems to be The One to catch. Bands from all over come in to play at this 4-day outdoor music festival in Chatham County. People camp out, kids run around, and musicians jam all over the grounds.

So yes, the hippy factor is way high here. Way high. There is a peace park where you can spend some zen time making rock formations, a spirit mask tent, lots of lessons in hula hooping, batik tents, drum circles, and much more that takes me back to my college days. But the GrassRoots Festival does a fantastic job of making this an event that is good for the kids, too.

Our family packed up and headed out there on Saturday for a fabulous day. There is an entire tent dedicated to children's events. We started there at 10am for a Kindermusik presentation which lasted for an hour and amused kids of all ages. We then decided to wander the grounds with C. We watched the cloggers at the Dance Tent, got some organic bean burritos, took in great acoustic bluegrass, and sat in the shade while C watched his first drum circle. By then, we were ready for the puppet show featuring the Red Herring Puppets. This puppet show was art and beauty, but also very funny to watch as the children shouted and talked the puppets through the fairytales. After that, it was on to the Earth Day parade through the grounds, which was led by a drum line and the Paperhand Puppet Intervention.

And if the entertainment isn't enough for the kids, there is also a second tent dedicated solely to children's activities. There are crafts and games inside of the tent, and outside is a big sand pit with toys and huge hay bales to roll around in and on.

So the GrassRoots Festival isn't cheap. Tickets are $30 - $37 per adult who attends for a 1day pass, and they don't offer half day options (children 12 and under are free). And this is very weather dependent since it is all outside. But the grounds are clean, well maintained, and it is a small enough festival where it never feels crowded. You can also bring in a cooler and any beverages and food you want (alcoholic beverages are allowed on the grounds, but they demand you be discreet by drinking out of cups or coozies. Not sure what that legal arrangement is....but it works for me since I can bring in my can of PBR....).

I saw some parents pushing strollers around and they seemed to be managing quite well. Honestly, I thought the best idea was the wagon, and I think we'll do that next year. You can drag your kid AND your cooler of PBR and sandwiches around. This year we just did a combo of following a wandering toddler and the Ergo. It worked just fine.

This festival is really a good opportunity for the whole family. My advice is to take the kids during the day, come home, get some dinner, then maybe mom and dad get a sitter and head back out to take in the latenight bands and festivities. Some great talent comes through here (Rusted Root, Hackensaw Boys, Sam Bush), and it is worth enjoying, but that part isn't so kid friendly.

By the by, Shakori Hills is the land, GrassRoots is the festival. There isn't too much more to Shakori Hills right now outside of the festival (although you can rent the facilities if you want), but there is a movement afoot to buy the land outright from the current owners so that it can be used more. If you are curious about this, head to the website.

Overall, I would stay tuned to the website, put the festival dates on your Google calendar, and plan to head out there in the future. Very few events offer something of value for every age bracket in such a small, safe environment. Get in touch with the hippy in you, and go let the entire family be free to take in music and art all day. Or, if you are more adventurous than me, pitch your tent and let the kids have a whole weekend of peace and love.

Shakori Hills
Fall & Spring GrassRoots Festival (see website for details)

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