Meet the Youngest Punk Rock Fans at Riot Fest

Jeff Gard and Andrew Gard
Jeff Gard and Andrew Gard
Oakland L. Childers

"Punk rockers are nice," says Owen Clark, who, at five years old, is one of the younger attendees at Riot Fest in Denver. His mother, Tyanne Clark, says she wrestled with the decision to bring Owen and his brother, two-year-old Noah, from Colorado Springs to see the festival.

"It was fifty-fifty at first, but they really like music," says Clark. "They've been super good though, and everyone's been super nice."

See also: The Rides of Riot Fest, Ranked

It's a common message from parents with kids at Riot Fest, and there are lots of them ranging from infants to teens. The consensus seems to be that - as long as you use your head -- it's a safe, fun experience for kids and parents alike.

Heather Watson and her son Junior Watson.
Heather Watson and her son Junior Watson.
Oakland L. Childers

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Heather Watson says she had reservations about bringing her ten-year-old son, Junior, but realized quickly there was nothing to worry about. "I brought my teen daughters yesterday just to kind of feel it out," she says. "Everything was fine."

Junior was all smiles. "He's just excited to be at a concert," says Watson.

Brothers Andy and Sean McBride say they left the decision about whether or not to come up to their daughters, Meara, six, and Collette, eight. The girls, they say, were completely on board. With minor exceptions, Sean says, everything was fun. "They just got a little sick in there from the smoke, so we came out," he says.

Melissa Cono, Emily Snipes, Carrie Soto, Tony Soto and Kingston Soto.
Melissa Cono, Emily Snipes, Carrie Soto, Tony Soto and Kingston Soto.
Oakland L. Childers

Noise, of course, is a huge factor for little ears and a full-blown concert with four stages can get really loud. "We thought as long as he had ear protection he'd be okay," says Carrie Soto of her son Kingston. But he didn't like the way the ear protectors felt and pulled them off. "We've had to stay back a little, but he's fine," says Carrie.

Eric and Amy Shilakes brought their boys, two-year-old Ryan and five-month-old Ethan, equipped with ear protection specifically made for small heads by Baby Banz. "Everyone has been asking us about them," says Amy.

And how well do they work?

"He fell asleep," says Amy, pointing at little Ethan.

Eric says the entire festival has been relatively simple, except for the fact that it wasn't exactly geared towards parents with small children.

"There's no bathroom for kids," he says, pointing out that, without a changing station, every diaper has to pull its weight and then some. "Staging everything in advance is the key."

All told, the family agrees Riot Fest was a good time and relatively hassle free. "The punk rock community is very supportive," says Amy, watching her two-year-old son Ryan bouncing up and down to the Violent Femmes. "We've gotten a couple of eye rolls here and there but that's it. They love seeing this guy dancing around."

Eric Shilakes, Amy Shilakes, Ryan Shilakes, Ethan Shilakes
Eric Shilakes, Amy Shilakes, Ryan Shilakes, Ethan Shilakes
Oakland L. Childers




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