By Amanda Hart
Illustrations by Blake Jones and Shelby Hohl
Anticipation for FPSF has been building for well over a year now. If you’re anything like us, you left the gates of Eleanor Tinsley Park last year dreaming of what 2013 would have in store. Thankfully, the wait is finally over. Free Press Summer Festival has arrived! We’ve been hard at work making sure that this year’s event is the best one yet. In an effort to ensure that your festival experience is as crunk as possible, we’ve put together a convenient guide to cover all the essentials you need to prepare for one hell of a good time.
1. Getting There: The actual address for Eleanor Tinsley Park is 500 Allen Parkway. The gates are located near Downtown/Sabine and Taft on Allen Parkway. If you live within biking distance of the park, riding your bike to FPSF is your best bet. There will be plenty of racks and space available on-site where you can lock up your bike. This is the most convenient way to arrive and the environment will thank you for it. If you live outside the city or state, we highly suggest that you carpool. There are plenty of parking garages located in and around the downtown area that will put you within walking distance of the festival. Another great option for festival attendees who don’t want to deal with finding parking downtown is the jitney shuttle service The Wave. Daily and weekend passes will be available for park/bike/walk & rides to and from FPSF. You can visit www.thehoustonwave.com to learn more. Lastly, the area where you can access taxi service or catch the METRO is located at Taft near Dallas.
2. Bring Your Damn Wristband: I know that seems like the most obvious pointer but it always happens to someone you know. Everyone is so excited to get to the festival that they leave their wristband at home. Pre-pack them the night before. Put them in your purse/messenger bag/satchel/fanny pack/backpack/man purse or whatever carrying case you are bringing your things in and be sure you remember where you put it. Or, you know, you could wear them to the park.
3. Basics for Surviving a Houston Summer: A Checklist
○ WATER. Lots of water. We will have easily accessible water filling stations at the festival so bring your CamelBaks. Water bottles can be purchased (and refilled) on-site. As per requirements by the City of Houston, NO WATER OR ANY OTHER LIQUID OR FOOD IS ADMITTED. There will be plenty of water available for free and for sale. Empty CamelBaks or reusable non-glass water thermoses are allowed and can be filled once in the fest, but must be proved empty upon entrance. It is really important that you stay hydrated during the festival. And, no, your body cannot survive on beer alone. Oftentimes a beer seems to quench your thirst while, in fact, leaving you more dehydrated. It’s a good rule of thumb to have at least one glass of water for every glass of beer you drink. So remember 1:1 in the water to beer ratio and you should be OK. This is also a great way to avoid a hangover.
○ Sunscreen. This is a necessity for everyone. If you see a friend, or even a stranger, who seems to be on the verge of turning into a lobster, be a dear and offer them some sunscreen. Hats or personal umbrellas are also welcome at the festival and can offer great use for protection from the Houston sun.
○ Sunglasses. So you can see us better.
○ Cash/credit card. ATMs will be available on-site at the festival and many of the vendors will also accept cards. But it’s always a good idea to bring a little cash with you for essentials and emergencies. It never hurts to have small bills on hand for ease.
○ Blankets/Towels. Feel free to bring these with you to make sitting on the grassy hill a bit more comfortable.
It is important that while dealing with Houston’s subtropical climate we maintain a sense of hyper awareness-not just with ourselves but also with others around us. We need to watch each other’s backs. If you see someone who appears to be injured or in need of medical attention, please flag down an FPSF staff member/volunteer or send someone else to do so while you stay with the injured party. All festival staff/volunteers have been trained to help you promptly find proper medical attention. Medical tents will be present throughout the festival if you or someone else needs help. HFD, our first aid team, and medics are volunteers, employees and/or sponsors of the festival and ARE ON-SITE TO ASSIST YOU, NOT ARREST YOU. Refusal of medical attention, especially in the Houston heat and humidity, can be fatal. No matter what caused you to experience an illness, please come to us if you need help. Your safety is our only concern. Please look out for people who might be experiencing heat exhaustion/heat stroke or even something as simple as dehydration. You can prevent heat-related illnesses by wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and drinking plenty of water. If you are not peeing every few hours you might be dehydrated and in need of a giant cup of water. Or three. We as a community have been very good about helping out our fellow festival goers over the years but we just want to make sure that it stays this way.
4.. The NOs: No Pets (of any kind). No coolers. No canopies, tents or other big pointy obstructions. No motorized vehicles. No weapons. No professional cameras (unless you applied for and obtained a media pass). Absolutely no video or audio recording equipment. This year we will be allowing detachable lenses for your cameras so bring them at your own risk. No unauthorized vending, sales, solicitations, or promotions. And again, no outside food or drinks, including no water or water bottles, sealed or unsealed. Security will be checking bags and confiscating prohibited items at the gate.
5. FPSF App: Download it, install it, create your schedule, and share your favorite acts with friends. Check out FPSF.com for details.
6. Check out the Local Acts: The headliners are an important part of FPSF, but be sure to give some love to our local artists. FPSF provides an ideal opportunity to venture out of your comfort zone and familiarize yourself with some of Houston’s most talented musicians.
7. Enjoy the Art: Unfortunately, this year, we will NOT have a paint slide. Please understand that this was not our decision. The City is doing construction on the park and because of the change in terrain, there just isn’t a safe place to set up the paint slide. We are just as saddened by this as y’all are, but our hands are tied. OK, now that the bad news is out of the way, here is the good news: There will be plenty of interactive art installations for you to enjoy! So be sure to schedule in some time to check them all out!
8. Lost Children: FPSF is an all-ages festival and we want everyone to come and enjoy the fun. However, all children found unattended will be given a free puppy and returned to you. If you can’t find a sitter and choose to bring your little ones, please be extra cautious with them. We haven’t had too many issues with this in the past, but it is always a concern when so many people are in one location. Just to be safe, it is a good idea to attach a name and number to your kiddos in case they get separated from you. Also, if you are a parent and are sending your teenager to FPSF without an adult chaperone, please make sure they have a charged cell phone and a meeting place coordinated with you prior to dropping them off at the festival. Phone reception at the festival can be spotty at times and any extra precautions you can take will help bring peace of mind to everyone. Last year, we encountered a couple of concerned parents who couldn’t locate their teens and, trust us, it’s heartbreaking to see the face of a worried parent.
9. The Official FPSF Hashtag: Sharing your FPSF experiences via social media is welcome and very much encouraged. We love seeing photos, Vines, tweets, and updates from all the folks enjoying their time in Houston during FPSF weekend. Just be sure to use the official hashtag #FPSF when posting about your super happy fun times at the fest.
10. Early Bird 2014: I can’t tell you how many people are in a tizzy right now because they didn’t get their passes early for 2013. You can avoid this feeling of sadness by making sure to pick up your passes for 2014 as soon as all the fun is had in 2013. You can also save a hefty amount of money by getting them sooner than later. (See website after fest for details.)