Festival Tickets-Worth the Price?

I had debated whether or not to go to a festival relatively close to where I live for several years. Last year the festival celebrated its 37th year the weekend of July 4th.  It is a festival where the proceeds are used to protect the water, land, and wildlife of a river basin in North Carolina. So far so good, right?

Last year’s festival included over 65 performers on 4 stages, as well as food trucks, a craft show featuring 85 local artists, environmental educational booths, and paddling demos in the river. Even better, right? Then you see tickets are $18 ($23 at the gate) for a single day pass or $30 ($35 at the gate) for a two day pass.  Teen tickets are $11 in advance or at the gate. Children 12 and under are free.  For a family with one or older children, that could really add up. My question each year was is it really worth the price of admission?

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Although I had seen the festival advertised many years ago, I had never gone because of the great debate about price of the admission tickets.  This debate came to an end last summer when my family and I finally went. We did not pay for our tickets, however. We were actually volunteers at a booth with a group that is part of an educational program about the river for children. Volunteers for the festival are graciously offered free admission for the entire day on the day they volunteer. Our shift was from noon to 2:30 so we went a bit early to walk around before our shift, and after our shift we walked around to the areas we hadn’t seen yet.

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As volunteers at the booth by the river, we got to scoop small fish, guppies, salamanders, and whatever else we could find in the river and put in tanks for others to see. There were displays about local animals in the area and skulls of indigenous animals were available for viewing and touching. It was really a lot of fun and the 2 and a half hours flew by.

One of the musical groups that we listened to there was Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands. We really enjoyed their performance and if by chance you see the band in your area, I encourage you to check them out, or check out some of their music online. There were many other performers and activities at the festival including dancers, woodworking demonstrations, beekeeping demos and information, puppet parade, kids’ activities, and even a huge sand sculpture by an artist who sculpted a skink last year.

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So to go back to my original question, is the price of admission worth it? In my case, considering you can spend an entire day (or two days) here and you get entertainment all day included and the proceeds are to help support the conservation of this beautiful area, I’d say absolutely. Obviously in general, festival ticket prices vary widely depending on the venue, length of festival, what’s included, etc. and everyone’s budget is different. But I’d encourage you to sign up as a volunteer for a festival you’ve been on the fence about going to and see for yourself.  You have nothing to lose if you don’t like it and you’ll be glad you didn’t shell out any money for admission if it’s not a good one. If you do enjoy it, however, you will have helped out the folks at the festival, gotten free or reduced admission, and experienced a festival on top of it all.

We enjoyed the experience so much, we’re going back again this year as volunteers and we’ll hang out and enjoy the rest of the festival afterwards. In our case, the price of admission is a couple of hours of our time helping to educate families about the environment including local animals and playing in the river. To me, that’s a win-win for everyone.

 

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Evansville Half Marathon, Indiana-13th state

Evansville, Indiana is a place many people have never even heard of or at least that’s my impression of it.  It is the third largest city in Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana.  The West Side Nut Club Fall Festival is a street fair held in the area west of downtown Evansville. It is held on the first full week of October and draws nearly 150,000 people.  That, in a nutshell is why I chose this race (pun intended).  I had no idea I would enjoy the race as much as I did.  My family and I also had a fun time in Evansville before and after the race.

If you’re looking for things to do before or after the race, there are several options.  We went to the Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden and had a blast.  If you have young children, you should check out the Children’s Museum of Evansville.  If you’re a car enthusiast, there’s the Dream Car Museum.  For something unique to the area, there’s Angel Mounds, a historical site of the largest settlement of the time.  As far as accommodations go, check the race website for hotels near the course that offer discounts.  They are the usual Hampton, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Marriott hotels.  There aren’t any large airports nearby, but Nashville International Airport is about 2 1/2 hours away and Louisville International Airport is about 2 hours away.

Here’s what I wrote about the race in my race log:

“Outstanding and FUN! course, with downhill start, running along Ohio River for portion, and ran the bases of a baseball field.  Outstanding volunteer stations.  Best finish time to date:  1:56:16.”

The weather was good and the volunteers along the course looked like they actually wanted to be there.  The vibe along the course was very fun and uplifting.  If you’re looking for a fun, fast half marathon, I recommend this one.

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Evansville Half Marathon