There aren’t many things I enjoy more than a music festival. For me, a great lineup, combined with a fun location and delightfully unhealthy eats, rivals Mardi Gras and the Christmas holidays. While my festival-going began years ago as just a day or two at Jazz Fest, it has grown in to two weekends there, along with French Quarter Fest, VooDoo Fest, Austin City Limits and Hangout Fest. And I’m very open to others if any of you would like to accompany me. 🙂 I’m fortunate to have children that also love music, giving me built-in festival buddies. While it’s possible that they hang out with me only because I pay for their tickets and they feel obligated, I prefer to think that they enjoy my company, as well as the music. I generally “fest” with one of my kids, but you might also find me with a group of friends, by myself (I actually enjoy this), or with my spouse on rare occasions. The company I keep changes, but the common denominator over the past few years has been what I have deemed my festival bag.
A birthday gift from my husband, this charming bohemian bag with an assortment of solids, prints, and other scraps coming together to make a large flower in the center, was intended to replace my weathered brown purse…one which had seen its best days many months prior. This beautiful gift was honestly the most amazing bag I had ever seen, and I instantly loved it. The drawback…it was quite large and seemed a bit overpowering for everyday use. I debated returning it, but the bright colors and funky style convinced me it had a place in my wardrobe. I just had to figure out its purpose.
For weeks, it mocked me from the uppermost shelf in my closet, daring me to trade my sad, brown purse for its snazzy pinks and denims and prints. As the weeks turned in to months, it quietly accepted its place, there among the free giveaway bags and the oldies-but-goodies…those that were too worn to be carried, but held a place in my heart too special to gain them a trip to the donation bin.
On the eve of the first day of JazzFest the following April, I excitedly searched for my rain boots in my closet when the bag caught my eye. It was festive, all right, and it could easily house all of the items I found essential to a successful festival…sunglasses, wallet, sunscreen, a bed sheet to sit on, a couple of bottles of water, rain poncho, my contraband candy, all with plenty of room to spare. Still, I remained apprehensive. It was just so pretty, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to subject it to dirt, possible rain, and a few other elements it might encounter at Jazzfest. After debating the pros and cons, I decided any use, even at an outdoor festival where it might receive a little wear and tear, was preferable to its sad life on the closet shelf. On that breezy Friday morning, I packed it with the necessary items, and it made its first trip to the fairgrounds.
I was in no way prepared for the reception the bag would receive. I accepted compliment after compliment on its behalf. Men and women of all ages commented on it. (True story…if ever you like an item I’m wearing or carrying, odds are it was a gift from my spouse. His taste is quite good.) I knew I had made the right choice carrying the bag. While it did rain and the bag came home that evening a little damp, it was overall relatively unscathed.
From that day forward, the bag became a festival staple and never missed a day of incredible music. It has seen some really great bands and has done a commendable job of carrying some fairly important items. It has only had its candy stash removed on one occasion, and I’m pretty sure that was only because the security girl was a gummy bear fan. Through the years, I have become less protective of the bag. It sits on the ground sometimes, ideally on the grass but occasionally in the dirt. It has done some time on the beach, and I still find random grains of sand in its crevices it I look carefully. It was even coated in brightly colored powder when an aggravating teenage girl threw some into the crowd during a Galactic show, but over the past eighteen months, most of it has worn away. At a distance, the bag still looks virtually the same as it did when I unwrapped it years ago.
In a few days, my favorite seventeen-year-old and I will be hitting up our next festival in Austin. I just pulled my bag out of the closet in preparation for the trip, and it’s still fabulous. The colors aren’t quite as vibrant as they once were…it’s even a little threadbare in places, but fabulous, nonetheless. I realize that somewhere in the not-so-distant future, I will be forced to retire the bag. Its main requirement, after all, is holding my things, and when one of those threadbare areas becomes a full-fledged hole, it will have to take its place among those items that I will no longer use, but will never be able to part with.
I bought a funky striped backpack in Arizona several months ago, and it’s cute…really cute. It’s fun and festive, and honestly, much more comfortable for carrying than a shoulder bag. Had I never seen “the bag” I would think it was pretty amazing. I guess it really is. But the fact of the matter is that I already own the pinnacle of bag awesomeness, and I know that it can never be topped. Still, I refuse to count out the greatest bag ever. I hope ACL will not be its last festival. If it is, I will know that it has had a life better than most accessories out there, and I will place it alongside the handful of sentimental items in my closet that, years from now, will cause my family to say, “I wonder why she keep this old thing?”