The South Park Music Festival survival guide

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Thousands of people will descend on the tiny town(s) of South Park and Fairplay this patriotic weekend for the South Park Music Festival. Whether you're a pro at camping music festivals or a newbie who only bought tickets because you didn't realize South Park was a real town, there are some things everyone should know for those three days of music, mud, partying and sleeping on the ground.

Music festivals, especially the "pitch a tent and party here for the weekend" kind are a marathon, and for the unexperienced or unprepared, a beautiful weekend in the mountains can easily turn into a nightmare where you find yourself suddenly quoting Gob Bluth -- "I've made a huge mistake." So we've put together a survival guide so you can spend the 4th of July weekend fully enjoying Slightly Stoopid while making far too many South Park jokes.

Make a schedule ahead of time, and then don't stick to it. The best and worst part of any festival is that there are going to be a few overlapping sets from bands you want to see. Will you see Slighty Stoopid or Matisyahu? Will you make across the fields in five minutes to catch all of Paper Diamond and Heroes X Villians? Planning out your day will keep you from missing the moments your most excited for, but everyone knows he best moments in life are the spontaneous ones, and that goes double for music festivals. You're only obligation is to have fun, so make that the priority over your perfectly organized plan-or more likely the semi-schedule you wrote on your hand.

Dress Appropriately (read: dress for everything and anything) Colorado weather in the summer means that it can go from boiling to raining to snowing to windy to hot again in about an hour. So, as cute as you may look in those Daisy Dukes and crop top made entirely of neon plastic flowers, you're going to looks cold and dumb when that afternoon hail storm hits. So go ahead and pack that bright yellow tank and body paint, but also pack some jeans, and a rain jacket, and a hoody, and anything else you could need for an unpredictable Colorado summer weekend. Better to be the kid with a bunch of extra clothes in your tent then the one with hypothermia because you only brought a bikini.

If you're stuck on what to wear, this outfit has gotten me through seven festivals: jean shorts, a V-neck tee, a sweatshirt or waterproof jacket, a bandana to protect against dust/sun and your old Converse All-Stars.

Pack Smart If you're heading to South Park, you will most likely be camping, so make sure you grab all those packing essentials you probably already have in the back of your Subaru. Other important things to bring: a big bag for your clothes, a small bag to carry around, sunscreen, water bottle, cash. Don't bring all that extra stuff you "might use" or "kind of want." It'll just take up room in your tent and you'll probably lose it anyway.

Bond with your fellow festival goers The first thing you should do after pitching your tent is introduce yourself to your camping neighbors. One of you may need to borrow a lighter later or will run out of breakfast food and then you'll be thankful you know your festival mates. Also, festivals involve a lot of waiting. A lot of waiting packed into a large crowd. Don't make it awkward. Start up a conversation, share a drink or dance with a stranger and be part of the community.

Stay Hydrated and (semi) well-fed No one wants to the be the one to leave early in the back of an ambulance, it's embarrassing and expensive. Three days of day-drinking is a challenge for anyone, so make sure you match your beers with water and at minimum eat a Cliff Bar every four hours. You won't regret it Sunday afternoon when your friends are hungover/sick in the tent and you feel like a champion. Festivals put your body through a lot, don't do any extra, unnecessary damage.

Other Tips -The Port-A-Potties by the kids area are always the cleanest - Drink more water then you think you need - Carry extra cash - If you're going to bring something prohibited (drugs, we mean drugs), place it in your bag under something dumb that is also prohibited. 9 times out of 10 security will get distracted by that one item and not search the rest of your bag.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.