We thoroughly enjoyed The Chicago Blues Fest last Saturday and Sunday. It was a chance to hear some free, world class music and hang with friends.The kids had a great time putting on shows for an appreciative audience with their ribbon dancers, hula hoops and poi balls. At one point they came back to the chairs we were watching them from, and announced that they were going to perform again, then ask for tips, to which I replied, "OH NO YOU'RE NOT. Do it for the joy of it, for fun, not for money!" Then they sheepishly said they were kidding, causing the women behind us to crack up.
Even Mama hooped after much useless not-in-public protesting and much chanting of "Hoop Hoop Hoop", by the peanut gallery. I even earned a round of applause!
Saturday we had some family time playing frisbee and catch in the "zone of flying objects" at the back of the lawn. Jugglers and expert hoopers with giant hula hoops abounded. And after dark there were ubiquitous glow sticks and even a glow hoop and glow juggling balls.
We ran into one little girl we've seen at every Blues Fest for years. She's named for an Indian Goddess and has her namesake's likeness on a jean jacket that she's worn for years. She appeared at The Flaming Lips concert at Summer Camp last year and down at the beach behind Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island during the Phil Lesh/Levon Helms concert. We'd still recognize our little friend, even if she outgrows the jacket next year!
Sunday, I went solo with the kids and met up with several Mama friends and their kids.
We all shared food and fest toys like poi balls, diablo, devil sticks, bubbles, hoops and a contact juggling ball.
Sagie chose to wear what was my favorite dress in Kindergarten. My Mom saved it for 37 years! The weather was finally warm and gorgeous and all the kids were playing happily together with little intervention.Even D'Arcy, who has been trying to make it to Blues Fest to meet up with us for years, made it!
At one point, we sent the kids to the back of the lawn (always within sight lines!) to play more rousing games of football, Frisbee and catch, while we caught up on conversation and tried in vain to keep the youngest toddlers closer to our folding chair encampment. When D'Arcy was ready to head out early on the train, we went to retrieve our 4 kids from the back. They had snagged the rope we used to tie the chairs to the wagon and were playing "hunter".
In the short time it took us to walk back to them, a drunk 20 something guy had joined in the game and encouraged the kids (ages 3,6 & 8) to all be hunters. They tackled him and in short order my 6 year old bound his ankles tightly and tied a number of knots (like Gulliver's Travels)! As we ran up, the guy was laughing on the ground, saying "I don't know how this happened. She's the mastermind, behind it all." Of course he pointed at Sagezilla! Taken down by a 40lb. girl. I didn't know whether to crack up or be weirded out that our kids had tackled and tied up a drunk stranger..........2 plus 2 is 4, 4 plus 4 is 8...........tie up drunken strangers......cause Blues Fest's always great. It's sweet home Chicago.
Even though we saw the whole thing go down, and he was probably a harmless goof in a well lit field full of people, we had to have an urgent refresher course at home, about tackling, touching and tickling (not to mention tying up!) being restricted to friends we KNOW.
We went over basic fest non negotiables again, too. For our kids, that includes rules about always telling an adult where you are going and not straying from the immediate area of the adults after dark, because it's too easy to get disoriented or out of sight.
Fests are full of police and crowded, so I think there's a false sense of security. But those same crowds make it easy to lose site of a quick moving kid. Too many children go missing or are harmed, and it's not worth taking a chance on. When in a large crowd, we require a least one adult to SEE where all kids are at all times, even if we tag team it.
Of course the mounted police are always a big hit with the littles. Fortunately they're friendlier to the little hippies than to the grown up tie dyed masses. Back in the day, we dreaded the horse police because they'd aggressively come through at the end of the fest and chase us all out of the park, intentionally trampling coolers, blankets and anything in their way. Now, we want to foster a good relationship between our kids and the boys in blue, in case they get lost............ or get arrested for roping drunks.
We'll be regulars at lots of Millennium Park and Grant Park concerts all summer. Blues Fest is one of our favorites, but it's only the beginning of the awesome free concert season in Chi Town. So watch your ankles people! Sagezilla's in the park.