The economy stinks… You need to make the most of your festival budget. Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass are Colorado’s flagship bluegrass festivals. Indeed, they are must-see events for the uninitiated. But, you don’t have to go every year to keep your Festivarian merit badge. There are many ways to get your freak on, low-budget and with style. Here are a few suggestions:

 

1) Less is More
Smaller festivals are cheaper to attend. And much easier to plan around. That equals many more events. There are usually a few headliners and a ton of local talent. You can expect a couple bluegrass festivals every weekend on the Front Range. Most of these festivals have camping for a very low fee.

2) Pay Your Dues
Volunteer to work the door for a local bluegrass festival. The time commitment is usually two or three short shifts during the festival in exchange for a wrist band. Your free pass is just one of the benefits of volunteering. You also get to meet many musicians and other festivarians.

3) Hold Your Own Event
It’s easier than it sounds, if you have the right venue (house) and be a bit of an entrepreneur. Its a good idea to keep the parties small to avoid annoying the neighbors and run it like a business. You will need to pay the band regardless of turnout and declare income.

4) Safety in Numbers
Join an existing group of festivarians and share their camp. Get out of your shell and join forces with others. It can be as simple as selecting a good campsite and sharing food with your neighbor. Find somebody in camp that you click with and join them. Camping as a group has many benefits.

5) Be the Ball
Buy a guitar, or mandolin and take some lessons. Join the jam after the show. Again it’s easier than it sounds. Learn a few chords (A,C, D, E and G) and attend one of Pete Wernick’s Jam Camps. Mr. Werenick, a.k.a. Dr. Banjo can teach you what you need to survive in an open jam. Once you start making music, the festival never stops. Sign up for a Jam Camp at drbanjo.com.