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How to Enjoy the Festival at Sandpoint (without really trying)

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How to Enjoy the Festival at Sandpoint (without really trying)

All the tips and tricks you need to know

Go late. Screw the real estate. If you’re not spendin’ the night, why bring a campground? Wandering around burns calories, lets you mingle, lets you unmingle in a hurry if need be, and most importantly, lets you avoid standing for days outside the fence wondering what it’d be like to parachute into this thing just before the gates open up. As you get older you either acquire more patience or run out of it altogether and neither of these is any comfort as your knees begin to buckle from the weight of all the crap you brought to help you be more comfortable.

Mingling also allows a change of view when the fancy strikes. If you’ve only been in the lawn chair section once, you’ll understand the benefit here, and besides, you get to say “howdy” to all those you haven’t said it to since last August (or one before that). I’m quite sure there are more attributes to the art of standin’ up and I hope to discover a few more of them as time goes by.

In addition, updating with old acquaintances in a crowd of fellow minglers just gets lost in the fog of babble around you. Without reading lips and hand gestures, you can’t even understand the person yelling at you, let alone pick out any other conversations in the vicinity. Try getting that same anonymity sitting in your lawn furniture while a hundred sets of ears and eyes check out the pickled wingnuts who want to know what you’ve been up to since whenever. It’s a “live” version of Facebook with a groovy soundtrack, mood lighting and optimistic weather predictions lightly seasoned with gull and osprey dribbles.

And being six foot-two, I find I’m reluctant to sit up straight because I get this burning sensation on the back of my head, forcing me to hunker down, stuff my fluff under a baseball cap and blend in with the rest of humanity. 

So, if you’re determined to stunt your evening’s enchantment by entering the competition for the best places to set your fanny while great music is telling it to shake, rattle and roll, then here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Rule number one is ‘don’t trust anyone to give you correct information. They are in this for themselves only. Misery loves company and humility always looks better on someone else. These are the four main tenets of Congress and they also apply here. If you seek information as to which line might be appropriate, that booth is on the inside (catch 22) and will be happy to fill you in once you get there.

For openers, you desperately need to know which gate you are supposed to be goin’ through, as getting it wrong tends to pucker yer mood and will generate feelings you really don’t need added to all the baggage you already have compressing your backbone. This lug-age consisting of water (or the equivalent), lawn blankets or chairs (low, medium or ‘ladder’ depending on the point of view you seek), cooler (with enough stuff to keep you from pulling out the plastic or straying from your diet), reading materials, more water, umbrellas (to impress those behind you inside, to ward off heat stroke outside and to supply cover in sudden squalls in either location), extra clothing (clean t-shirt for when you forget that clapping and eating shouldn’t happen at the same time, light shirt, light jacket, sweatshirt, poncho, parka and dry socks), camera bag, video bag, bag of batteries, trash bag, picnic supplies, second cooler (for even more liquids), personal items (any medications, toys or wireless devices you can’t be without for roughly ten hours), a handy yet effective disguise (or two) and possibly much, much more. Some people have more baggage than others and it becomes evident at times like this.

Get in line about noon. 

Got kids? You’ll need a sherpa (unless that’s the reason you got married in the first place, then ladies you already have one).

So, it’s best to get in shape early guys, starting in late April, by standing out in the driveway for hours at a time while holding onto everything aforementioned and improving on your pain management techniques. For added fascination, measure your height before and after.

This brings up what to do when you find out you’ve been standing in the wrong line for three hours under a canopy where the shade is, well, shade and shade is scarce. This happens to ‘newbies’ and Alzheimer’s patients mostly and me. The sign that reads ‘patron entrance’ could easily be interpreted to mean those who actually bought a ticket, which is what I did. Turns out there’s more than one definition for ‘patron’ so you should add ‘dictionary’ to that list of essentials. If you’re already wearing your disguise (saving room in your duffle for one more bag of cheese puffs) relax, this moment is what it’s for. Simply release any methane you’ve been hoarding and mosey off to the loose end of the largest mélange of lightly knit locals you’re likely to find (locally). You’ll notice similar expressions around you, born out of knee jerk indignation tempered by acute realizations and the onset of heat stroke. Your new line is nearly a thousand strong! 

At this point you can probably observe a number of youngsters entrepreneurial enough to stake out a good spot in this line for just such an occasion. You can donate freely to their college fund (in time, they will become stock brokers) and assume their position. It may get you a pretty nice patch of turf too if you don’t get tripped up in the initial stampede by someone intent on gaining an advantage. 

A few years ago on the way in to see Johnny Lang, I watched a little ol’ lady (or a clever disguise) tap a fully loaded guy’s rear foot inward as he bolted forward, releasing a veritable obstacle course of modern accoutrements. She then left footprints on his left butt and right shoulder, clearing coolers, folding chairs and duffle bags but not quite a splayed six-pack of diet Pepsi, which exploded under the impact of her oddly muscular self esteem.

This is not a sporting event but I was immediately reminded of the opening lap of the ’66 Indianapolis 500-slash-demolition derby!

One of these years, I want to be on the inside when they open the chutes just so I can write an eye witness account of how our locals act in utter chaos, not unlike the land rushes of the 1800s. I haven’t seen a good stampede since my brother hollered “Free Beer!” at Rockin’ the Rivers back in ’04.

To sum up, go late, go lightly and carry a tall cool one. Socialize, dance, listen and wander about because that’s what all the smiling people are doin’ anyways. 

Don’t sit down because the person in front of you will be invariably huge like Jerry Luther.

Wear a disguise as you may not remember it all and it seems literally everyone has a camera these days, not to mention a thing for You-tube.

Know your excuses but don’t expect ‘em to work (they’ve been doing this for 29 years now and have undoubtedly heard ‘em all).

Have connections but don’t expect them to work either. Refer to rule #1.

Good luck and enjoy yerself.

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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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Festival at Sandpoint, humor

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