Spent ALL of Thursday packing and headed out early on Friday morning with the kids, bound for Blissfest in Bliss, MI. Way, way up there in the finger tips of the lower peninsula. There are many people who love this festival. There are kids who have grown up on it. People who have gotten married there. Etc. Etc. But then there are also just the summer festival people -- the ones who hit all the traditional music festivals and the young adults who spend their summer going from one festival to another, volunteering to get a free ticket. I don't think that I fit in any of these categories.... I kept forgetting where I was and calling it Dunegrass. It is older than Dunegrasss and does a few things better, but I think I like Dunegrass' musical offerings better (at least what they've had in the last two years, not going this year).
The kids loved the Lake Michigan was near by and happily played away Friday's late afternoon into early evening at a rocky and sandy beach outside Cross Village after a fabulous lunch at Legs Inn. On Saturday, we let the shuttle bus drop us further up the shore along the dunes for more beach frolicking. We caught some music, but that was obviously secondary for the kids. E again spent lots of time reading and O played hard in the kid space. Both enjoyed the rockin' craft-making booth set up for the kids and the real juggle sticks I bought them at one of the booths. I got them to check out some music, but mostly I had to listen from the edges as I kept my eye on them. I wish that festivals would set the kid areas up near one stage. I realize that I might miss lots of music on the other stages, but at least I'd get to better engage with what happened on the one stage. As it was at Bliss, I could hear bits of all the stages, which means that I could hear none of them well.
Of the music, Kathy Mattea was quite good, even the kids got into a bit of her set. The winner was a Canadian band, however, The McDades. Three siblings up front with a guitarist and drummer thrown in for good measure. I'd call them sort of urban traditional with a touch of jazz. I caught all of both their sets, amazingly enough.
Of the festival, my favorite part was the members party that happened in a garden behind the stage. There were shaded and pleasant places to sit, lots of food and free beer from Founders and New Holland, and one could still hear the bands.
From Bliss we hit Legs Inn for another meal (kids like Polish food and the excellent garden!) and then drove down to North Higgins State Park to meet Stacey and the boys for more camping. The three smaller people delighted in seeing each other and had great adventures on the hiking trails, at the beach, on the volleyball court, etc. etc.
As we packed things up for the last time, the kids worked out their own 'secret' three-way handshake, captured in this final image. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.