ACL is over and I’m exhausted! I feel like the three days easily felt like a week, if not more. Partaking in all that is Austin City Limits requires a lot of energy and a strong commitment to make it through. And I didn’t even have my kids with me. I can only imagine how much more exhausted I would be having to chase kids here and there, make sure they are taken care of, and that they don’t get lost; you’d have to keep a constant eye on them.
But, not having my kids there made me feel like they were really missing out on something good and fun. I almost felt guilty. Not just the fact that they missed out on the music, but all of the activities that are geared toward young ones: punk hairdos, a hip-hop workshop, tattoos, a snack shack and free Lifeway Probugs (my daughter sucks those things down!), School of Rock jam tent, H.E.Buddy to hang with…. not to mention all of the other punked out kids running around to play with. And that’s not even all of the activities for the kids!
I walked in to the Kiddie Limits area with my eyes wide open, on the lookout for the good and the bad. I was surveying the scene– trying to figure out if I wanted to bring my kids with me next year. I was immediately drawn to the hip-hop workshop for kids. There the itty-bitties stood, rapping into the microphone, with help from The Q Brothers, a Chicago based hip-hop band who has been at Austin City Limits for the past five years. I asked JQ what he most likes about helping kids rap at ACL. His response: “Freestyling is different than rhyming out of a book because you acknowledge everything that’s happening in the moment. Kids are so observant, but I don’t know if they always express what they see. This helps them get those words out.” Some of the kids need a little help, but some kids, especially the ones who are AKL junkies, come with their own hip-hop songs prepared. Just moments before talking with JQ, I overhead them talking to a girl who looked to be about seven years old while waiting for her turn to roll around. They recognized her from the year before, which was quite impressive for an entire year to pass and to see thousands of kids come through the festival every year to actually remember her face.
And then there’s actual shade! Shade, people!! I melt when it’s hot outside. I need shade and was happy to find a spot (several spots, actually) open under the tent to watch Charlie Mars sing to all of the wee ones. Ah, shade…..
Later in the day, we walked back to the Kiddie Limits area and found a very long line that had formed near the porta potties. I thought about how many accidents were happening with kids who couldn’t wait in line for a long time for their turn on the potty and also about the kids (like my daughter) who refuse to use a porta potty. We talked with one mom who has a daughter turning three next month who admitted to us that her daughter is “potty-finicky”. They brought along Pull-Ups. “Once she got used to peeing in them, it was ok,” she said. I think I may have done the same thing had I brought along my potty-finicky child as well. Better safe than sorry.
On Saturday, we talked with Amy and Ken from Austin- they have a two and four year old. They have been to ACL before but with only one child. We noticed that the first day there were not separate bathrooms for AKL kids and families, which was the cause of the long line the previous day as all of the other festival goers were using them as well. Amy said, “It is hard for a four year old to wait that long.” But the second day there were potties in the AKL area and all were clearly labeled for families only. That’s some quick action on C3’s part to make the festival more family-friendly!
With every large music festival, there are going to be some complaints. Mike, who traveled all the way to Austin from New York for ACL with his baby daughter and wife, loves coming year after year. In fact, he’s been coming for five years now! For the past four years, he has come without a kid in tow. So how was it different coming this year with a child? One of the changes he recommended was to have some reserved seating for families close to the other stages outside of Austin Kiddie Limits. “It’s been tough to see the other shows with her since there isn’t a whole lot of shade out there,” he said. In fact, while we were talking with him, his wife was out watching a show. Tag-team parenting seemed to be popular, but having a shaded kiddie haven to hang out at while the other parent goes out for some adult time is a good option.
With the few complaints, there were more than enough positives to counteract the negative. The Austin Kiddie Limits has shade, lots of activities for the kids to keep them happy, kid-friendly music, and more. Abrakadoodle, a local company that offers action art classes, camps and birthday parties was one of the local companies participating in the Austin Kiddie Limits area. Geraldine, the Abrakadoodle Education Director, was invited to participate this year in AKL.. A large canvas was thrown on the ground, allowing the kids to create action art in the style of Jackson Pollock. Abrakadoodle provided the paint and canvas. Geraldine says, “We’ve gone around and collected half-used cans of paint that otherwise would have gone into a landfill or something like that. I literally went around and knocked on doors.” It’s nice to see all of the local participation that goes into the festival!
So what’s so cool about Austin City Limits having a Kiddie Limits area? It’s local. It’s community coming together to celebrate good music, food (although a lot of the food is not so “kid-friendly”(but you are allowed to bring in snacks for the kids), and people. It’s a place where you can go to feel cool, and to make your kids cool by bringing them to a cool music festival. Ok, so I used the word cool a lot, but, really, if you can (wo)man-up and bring your kids along to a three day music festival, you are pretty freakin’ cool in my eyes.
How was your experience at Austin Kiddie Limits this year? What was your favorite part? Your favorite show?
If you plan on going to ACL next year, mark your calendars for September 16-18, 2011 and help them celebrate their birthday jubilee!