Yes, I understand that Athfest was partially created to bring tourists into town during the traditionally slow summer season but I maintain my right to be annoyed by the extreme heat and humidity that the current setup creates. Were we watching a ton of bands and pursuing the artist stalls in a grassy field or indoors somewhere I would have little to complain about. But once again we’re having a music festival during one of the hottest and most humid parts of the year in the street. There’s only so much that can be done to mitigate the heat coming from all sides (including below) and the sheer dampness that will settle over everything.
I don’t have a solution to any of this. Like I said, I’m just here to grouse about it. Moving the festival to any other time of year would defeat the purpose of a summer festival. While the indoor shows are, well, indoors, they’re a small paid portion of the event that happens well after dark. If you go to Athfest during the day, you’re gonna have to fight the heat. So here’s some things I need you to know about tackling Athfest.
LEAVE YOUR DOG AT HOME – Seriously. Every year I watch a dozen or so folks bring their dogs to Athfest for the day and the poor animal is sitting on the hot sidewalk/roadway with no protection, being blasted by noise. Unless you’re carting your fur kid around in a wagon or something similar, it is TOO HOT on the concrete for their paw pads and you should leave them at home. I promise, they’ll be fine. Your pillows and toilet paper not so much but that’s a different problem.
DRINK WATER CONSTANTLY – “But then I’ll have to go to the bathroom and I don’t want to use a port-a-john!” Trust me, at the rate you’re gonna sweat you will not be visiting the facilities as often as you think. If a port-a-john is an absolute no go for you, consider getting a three for one situation going where you go into a local restaurant, order food (AND WATER), use their bathroom, and then enjoy your meal in the air conditioning. AND you’ll be out of the sun so that’s one less application of sunblock!
TAKE COVER – You’ll need shade and lots of it next weekend. If you’re not the type to spend the entire time under the beer tent, make sure you’re covered in something to ward off the deadly sun lasers. I’m not joking. Skin cancer kills. So if you’re not slathered in sunscreen and reapplying it constantly, you need to be wearing sleeves. Wear a hat! Your scalp can get burned. Wear sunglasses because eyesight damage is a thing as well! If you’re feeling faint or have noticed you’ve stopped sweating, hightail it to a medical tent and get checked out. I’ve had heat exhaustion and heat stroke before. Not a great time.
PROTECT YOUR HEARING – Wear earplugs. “But I won’t be able to hear the music!” Yes, yes you will. Ask any of us music folk about our tinnitus. Avoid our fate of EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE in the ear for the rest of our lives by protecting your hearing with some nifty earplugs.
PLAN AHEAD – In years past I would collect all the bands playing Athfest and devise little schedules based on genre, time, etc. Thankfully Athfest has upgraded its website and now does all that work for you! But it still pays to plan ahead. If you’ve got clashing shows or are afraid you might be too tired to catch a band, consider doing a quick search to see if that artist has announced shows for later in the summer or fall. That way you can take a small break without feeling like you’re going to miss everything. Pacing yourself is key. Also consider buying some merch while you’re out and about. Any little thing helps!
A friend and former Athfest organizer has added these to our list:
ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Any law enforcement officer or AthFest volunteer will be happy to help if you find yourself (or a friend) in need of assistance.
KNOW THE SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. Heat exhaustion: skin suddenly goes clammy, gray, and looks shriveled. The body is directing all its resources to cooling the brain. Heat stroke: skin turns cherry red, person stops sweating. Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency: find the nearest doctor or EMT.