We get asked one question more than any other, “Can I bring my kids to this festival?” Specifically to Folly Fest. We get it. You’re not dead yet, you’re just trying to retain something vaguely reminiscent of your former social lives in this post-apocalyptic world you call ‘parenthood’.
The answer is yes. Absolutely. But maybe it’s best you know what you’re getting into first.
Disclaimer: I’m not a parent. I have a cat. I raised him myself. He’s the best cat. I am, however, an unofficial “uncle” – an honorary position that comes with its own challenges and responsibilities and absolutely zero authority.
The simple request of watching the kids for an hour or two somehow gets translated through their tiny ears as “Kids, now’s the time to play a game of ‘hide and go seek’ on a global scale,” or “The floor is lava! The furniture is lava! The only thing that isn’t lava is Alex!” or the more general, “Here’s your chance to try all those things your mom said you’re not allowed to do.”
These kids know the rules of the game, and they know exactly which ones they want to break first. They’re like caged velociraptors that have been strategically testing their pen for weak points and they just found an Alex-sized hole in the fence.
So here’s what I learned while watching my friends’ kids in a trial-by-fire last Folly. It might be a bit of a guide for dummies, but I do have a 100% tear-free survival rate.
You, on the other hand, are a parent! Congratulations! You’re a pro. This is all old news to you. Should be a walk in the park , albeit one that lasts for three days.
This is the stuff you already know. Food, shelter, water, sunscreen. Not in that order. Yes, there are water stations and food vendors on site, but you shouldn’t have to sparkle pony that stuff anymore, especially since you’ve got a tiny sparkle pony of your own to care for. In the words of Lord Baden Powell, “Be prepared.”
You Are Not Alone
More and more people are discovering that Folly Fest is a family friendly event. Now in its ninth year, lets face it, some of us are getting older too. People that have been coming to the festival for years are now bringing their kids.
“The word is out that it’s not taboo to bring your kids to Folly Fest!” says Mike Humble, the Official Mumble of Folly Fest.
“We love the little ones at Folly! There are kids that have been to eight Follys! That’s a lot of magic for a young mind to absorb. We think it inspires kids to explore and see the world in a different and more magical way. Grownups can be fun too.”
Family camping is one of the great luxuries of Folly Fest. It’s worth bringing a kid along just for the access to the quiet campsite. Located behind the Yippie Stage (which acts as a decent insulator against sound) it’s handy to the washrooms and in an enclosed area where nobody can get too lost.
Quiet hours start at 10pm. There’s no extra charge for Family Camping but you do need to register, and vehicles aren’t allowed entry after 2pm on Friday.
General Camping is a designated 19+ area, and while it’s fun to visit the tent village, Family Camping is more comfortable anyway.
There Is Safety In Numbers
You’re probably of an age where your friends have kids too. Bring them. Bring them all. Music festivals are way more fun when you’re with friends. It’s easier to go as a gaggle.
While you might have plans for exactly what you want to see, no doubt you’re aware that kids are experts at hijacking said plans. You want to be front and center at the main stage? Too bad, you’re now spending the next half hour putting out a tantrum because someone wanted to play hide and seek in the tall grass.
It’s best if you can divide and conquer. Take shifts with your fellow parental friends. You’ll have more freedom to do the things you want, and so will your kids.
The Fun Stuff
For starters, there’s a music festival going on. That’s what you came for anyway, right? Kids can be strangely indifferent to this. They love all the up close interaction of the smaller Yippie Stage during the day. When it comes to the big acts hitting the Feels Good Main Stage it can be hit or miss with the kids depending how many naps have been had. Kids usually have no idea who these bands are, and so they’re going to give you an honest reaction every time. They’re either going to dance or they won’t, but what they absolutely do not enjoy is being three feet tall and getting crowded out in a sea of butts. Expect to spend plenty of time dancing on the sidelines, or chilling in the nearby hammock stands. Don’t forget to bring hearing protection.
Kids are otherwise pretty good at entertaining themselves. They’re great a making new friends as they bond over things as exciting as finding a stick, or being the same height. They will amuse themselves endlessly by running in circles, jumping into bushes, watching people fill their water bottles, and swinging in hammocks. If all that fails there’s still a ton of official entertainment:
Friday: Meet and greet.
9:30am Family Yoga
10:00 – 10:45am Animal Art
11:00 – 12:45pm Yoga Dolls / Mala Bracelet Making
1:00 – 2:45pm Rock Painting / Story Stones
3:00 – 4:45pm Dream Catchers / Bird Feeders
5:00 – 7:30pm Hula Hoop Workshop / Tic Tac Toe
9:30am Family Yoga
10:00 – 10:45am Animal Art
11:00 – 12:45pm Beaded Wind Chimes / Circus & Bubble Workshop
1:00 – 2:45pm Clay Space / Pitch Pot Demo / Seed Bombs
3:00 – 4:45pm Popped Bubble Art / Leather Keychains
5:00 – 7:30pm Bracelet & Necklace Making / Wood Painting
There’s also the imaginary carnival grounds, which are a lot nicer than you’d think.
Here’s another one we get asked about a lot. Gagetown is located right on the St. John (or Wolastoq?) River, and while there’s a little bit of a trek from the festival ground to the beach, it’s a great spot for a swim on a hot day. That is if you don’t mind the sight of a bunch of naked hippies. People do tend to cover up if they see kids around, but there are no guarantees.
You Dig Music
Alright, it’s a festival. You used to be a rock star. Maybe you still are. Please adult responsibly. You can’t take care of anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself.
While children are expected to be supervised at all times, there’s a reason it gets referred to as ‘The Folly Family’. You’ll get comfortable with them running around pretty quick. Having kids at the festival tends to bring out the best in most people, and it’s nice to have some tiny experts to remind us all how to have fun.
So remember the essentials: snacks, sleeps, sunscreen and staying hydrated. The same goes for your kids.