As a Sasquatch! Festival attendee for going on five years now, I decided to compile some of the knowledge I’ve gathered along the way. Perhaps, for those making their initial trek out to the gorge, this can be insightful, though I also hope that certain aspects will ring familiar to folks who have spent previous memorial day weekends fending off sobriety in the eighty-or-more degree heat while waiting, somewhat impatiently, to make it into the Sasquatch! Main Stage inner circle. Mostly, though, I hope to get peeps as amped up as I am about this rapidly approaching festival.
Tip #1 Get there early. Now, I know, for some of you, this might be impossible. What, with, “real life” and “jobs” or the possible 5+ hour drive ahead of you, arriving Friday night may not be an option. But, I must confess, it is definitely worth it. Not only is it a plus to get the party started one night earlier, but it’s nice to get the tent set up, get to know the folks around you and maybe organize the campsite a bit, well before the festival/debauchery begins. Though, on this note, I must stress the importance of pacing one’s self. No one wants to be hung over/out of booze by the first day. Sasquatch is nothing short of an endurance test. You’ll be in party mode for—assuming you arrive Friday night—well over 80 hours, and this party includes long herd-like treks up and down hills in intense heat, little sleep (dur), standing in place for hours at a time, dancing until you can’t, possibly hail, rain or sleet (or, if you’re lucky, all three), dealing with frustrations over that really annoying/tall dude in front of you, long lines for portable toilets, 8 dollar in-festival beers, as well as the aftermath of any other recreational activity you bring along with you. It’s intense. Though, it’s also intensely awesome. Do yourself a favor and get there early.
However, if you do fall into the camp of folks who simply cannot get there the day before, I would still recommend getting to the gorge as early in the morning as possible. As noon approaches, the gridlock of cars grows. You now are not only fighting with other last minute campers, but day-trippers as well. If you do pull in around noon-ish the day of the festival, you should expect to sit in what will feel like one of the longest lines you’ve ever sat in, in your entire life. This brings me to Tip #2. Make sure you stop at a restroom before you sit in the day-of-festival traffic jam. Things can get real painful, real fast if you do not heed this warning. I’m speaking from experience here. Despite the cover provided by an abundance of trees along the side of the road, there are generally enough cops and security guards circling around to ensure that you will not gain the courage to flee your vehicle and relieve yourself. Just stop off in Vantage or George and use the restrooms there and maybe get some gas or load up on more booze and snacks while you’re at it. Problem solved.
Tip #3 Bring a boom box so your idiot friend doesn’t keep the engine running to blast some tunes and kill the car battery. This makes sense, right? Everyone loves boom boxes, and it really is no fun to get everything and everyone packed in the car, ready to go, only to discover that your battery is dead. Luckily, the year this happened to us, we had jumper cables and our neighbors were cool enough to give us a jump. But I’d still say it is a lot better to just forgo this issue and stick to the boom box method. On a side note, so many people are going to be blasting music already that you may be fine just leeching off of their tunes instead of adding to the general clusterfuck of noise going on in the campsite. Hopefully the people near you are playing something good, though, and not just Kids and Time To Pretend on repeat (true story).
Tip #4 Bring a day bag packed with a decent amount of supplies. Like I said, Sasquatch can be an endurance test, so it’s really great to be prepared. You’ll want to bring some warm clothes for the evening—preferably something with a hood, because it could rain/hail at the drop of a hat—as well as some sun screen, sunglasses, water bottles and, if you don’t want to spend $12 on a bowl of noodles, food. Though, a well-stocked bag has another benefit; it makes it much easier to sneak contraband items into the festival. Generally speaking, the security folks that search your bags at the gate will not reach into your bag if you open it for them and present them with the majority of your items. If you have, say, three or four sandwiches, a hoodie, bags of crackers and carrots and four or five bottles of water, they will most definitely wave you through and overlook the bottle of whisky or vodka stashed at the bottom. Just present the goods to them slowly. They mostly want to wave you past to keep the line moving, anyhow. I actually haven’t heard about anyone getting caught smuggling in items, which is not to say, of course, that it doesn’t happen. If you are at all nervous about this, may I recommend the ol’ flask by your crotch trick? Works every time.
It’s really cool to get creative about smuggling booze into the festival. I had some friends one year who drained a bottle of Smirnoff into a watermelon, then sliced it up and divided it amongst the group. Not only was it delicious, it was also fairly effective. However, if you’re like me, you’re not nearly that creative when left to your own devices, so you’ll probably just sneak a bottle of cheap vodka in. This brings me to another tip. Tip #5 Bring drink mixers. I don’t care how hard-core you are; eighty-degree alcohol does not go down well. That’s not to say that eighty-degree alcohol mixed with crystal light goes down much easier, but it certainly helps. Even if you continually drink water throughout the festival the gorge heat will keep you pretty thirsty and you’ll probably prefer something that you can sip on, rather than grin and bear. But, then again, if you are hard-core, and fiery-hot booze is your thing, then kudos to you.
I realize now that, up to this point, I’ve mostly written about the heat. However, a glance at the forecast for the gorge suggests that we’ll see some rain. So here you are people, Tip #6 Bring rain gear. Just in case, you know? Make sure that your tent’s rain fly works properly (or that your tent even has a rain fly). Also, if you are going to put a tarp under the bottom of your tent, make sure that the tarp does not stick out along the sides of your tent. It’s one of those things that seems pretty obvious to me now, but that’s only because I know what it’s like to wake up at 6am sopping wet because a giant pool of water has formed under the tent. It’s not a good feeling.
Above: An example of a tent not to bring to Sasquatch.
Unfortunately, if it does rain most of the weekend, we will probably all get soaked at one point or another. Though, you can still take certain precautions when inside the festival grounds, like bringing a large tarp to turn into a makeshift tent during mid concert showers. Or, wearing a poncho, because, not only will it keep you dry, but also it’s a general consensus that ponchos are cool. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it won’t rain too much this year.
I think that about does it for the tips. I’m hoping that this has been informative, or that you’ve at least had a chance to giggle at some of my past misfortunes. I hope everyone has a great time at this year’s festival and gets to see all the bands that they want/lives through it to attend Sasquatch! 2011. I’ll see y’all there.
P.S. Tip #7 Go See Pavement. Need I say more?