Eight Tips for Your Next Country Music Fest

I spent some time at a three-day barbecue and country music festival — the second annual Windy City Smokeout — in Chicago over the weekend. It was mostly awesome. The music, the food, the drinks were all excellent. The fans, too, were enthusiastic, cool and just rowdy enough. All 8,500 of them.

But then, there were little things that annoyed me that I have to point out, like a public service for festival goers everywhere. Just some things to think about next time you venture out to any kind of event where there is live country music and a crowd of live country music fans.

1. The phones. For God’s sake, just put them away. You should be looking at the stage, not down at your phone. Who could you possibly be texting, tweeting, Instagramming or Snapchatting who is more important than the band you paid to see?

2. Girls, those wedges were totes adorbs in your bedroom mirror. But this parking lot terrain littered with empty beer cans calls for something a little less ambitious than 4-inch heels. Trust me, your steady gait will be a welcome addition to all elbow-to-elbow crowds.

3. Pace yourself. I can’t stress this enough. A good rule of thumb is to have a bottle of H20 after every beer, bloody mary or whiskey in your water.

4. Just because you don’t know a certain artist’s music very well doesn’t make them the fest’s intermission. If this music’s not your thing, go somewhere else. To badmouth a band in a sea of their fans is just asking for trouble.

5. If you are going to eat barbecue ribs all day, wash your hands all day, too. Especially if you’re the touchy/feely type.

6. Port-a-potties have come a long way, baby. They’re nicer, cleaner and much more private than the port-a-potties of the olden days. But that still doesn’t mean they are equipped to be your honeymoon suite. Go live out your scandalous country-fest sex scene fantasy somewhere else.

7. I love your Skoal ring. Because that is just so country of you. But please, please, please think before you spit. No one wants your chaw on their cowboy boots.

8. If you’re bored, you are probably boring. Seriously. Don’t just stand there. Sing. And sing like the frontman just gave you that look telling you he was on voice rest and was going to need you to take over on lead vocals. Sing like you damn well mean it.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.