bring the family!
a message from the president of the
california Bluegrass Association
Did you know that children under 16 get into the festival FREE? We are definitely family friendly and have activities for children. We also have the best ice cream sold in the world during the Festival. (check out Lazy Dog Ice Cream) Children love to camp and there are many options for both tent camping and RV camping. The Tent Only section near Gate 4 is loud at night with non-stop jamming. While many families (including my own) camp in this area, if you want to have a quieter sleeping experience I recommend that you camp on the hill beyond the main parking lot.
Porta-potties are placed strategically throughout the Fairgrounds, the People Mover can take you from your camp to the stages/ concession area and bicycles (helmets required for children) can be ridden up to the fence surrounding the stages/concession area. There are absolutely no bicycles allowed in the “main” festival area. Children are everywhere during the festival because we welcome families. There is a Children’s Activity Program held every morning and afternoon at the back of the lawn of the Main Stage Area (Thursday afternoon through Saturday). This recreational program with crafts and music activities for toddler to mid-range requires adult to stay and supervise.
The Kids on Bluegrass (KOB)is a performance-based activity for children 3-17 with two stage appearances during the Festival. KOB requires a time commitment for rehearsals and a low stress audition process. KOB participants do not need a parent present at all times. The Children’s Instrument Lending Library is located next to the KOB on the water ditch. Children are welcome to borrow an instrument from the Lending Library if their parent(s) is an active CBA member. More than 90 instruments are currently in the hands of our children and we welcome more donations of playable bluegrass instruments.
There is no swimming anywhere on the Fairgrounds but for those hot summer days (if you can tear yourself away from any of the three stages and nonstop jamming) many swimming opportunities are a relatively short (30 minute) car ride away. The Yuba River has many swimming holes and we recommend the South Yuba River State Park (at Bridgeport) for the smallest of children. The Highway 49 Bridge and Edwards Crossing Area are better for older children who know how to swim. Bowman Lake, Rollins Lake, Scott’s Flat Lake are other options for swimming for families during the afternoon break. Grass Valley and Nevada City also both have public pools open to the public. Educational opportunities abound in this historical area (my own children referred to our educational adventures as “forced marches”).
The Grass Valley/Nevada City Area feature architecturally intact downtowns dating back a century and a walk through the commercial areas is recommended (as are drives through the neighborhoods). The Empire Mine State Historic Park is located in downtown Grass Valley and was the richest hard-rock mine in California and operated 1850-1956. This is a lovely park and worth a visit. Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (check for California SP closures this year) is a 30 minute drive away and features small buildings and acres of what Hydraulic Mining destruction looks like a century later.
My own family arrived on the Fairgrounds the weekend before the Festival (camping for a per-night fee is available pre-festival) and spent the week exploring the roadways of the lovely and historic gold rush area. The Summer Music Camp begins the Sunday afternoon before the festival so there are activities occurring on the Fairgrounds the entire week. If you arrive before the festival, a day-long loop drive that takes in the numerous small settlements around of Grass Valley/Nevada City is recommended. Search the internet, buy a local map, ask your camping neighbors and be directed to travel to something you and your children will not forget. Bring your family and bring a wagon to haul the kids and gear, bring whiffle balls/bats, Frisbees, bicycles (and helmets), a fishing pole for fishing in the little lake (children only).
Bring your children and grandchildren and enjoy bluegrass music under the pines at the 37th Annual Father’s Day Festival on the Nevada County Fairgrounds in (blue)Grass Valley, California. Our own children now bring their children and “forced marches” will be repeated.