TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. – Trumansburg will soon be bursting with people from near and far to celebrate the 27th annual Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, which begins on Thursday.
More than 80 bands are scheduled to play over the course of the four-day festival, and the music will be accompanied by countless other activities and workshops – festival-goers can look forward to enjoying yoga workshops, food from local vendors, storytelling, and various art installations, to name a few things.
Related: 7 tips to help you make the most of Grassroots
While the festival is scheduled to be jam-packed with things to do, here’s a list of things not to miss.
Grassroots takes place at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds. If you opt to camp out on site, you’re living inside the festival for four days. Many attendees who stay multiple days set up camp off-site, either right next to the fairgrounds or slightly farther away. Offsite campers don’t have to worry about transportation, though – the festival provides shuttles to the campground for people who stay outside the perimeters.
Make sure you know the landmarks around your site, it’s easy to get lost amongst the maze of tents and drum circles. Even if you’re not camping out, if you plan to stay for a day make sure to plan ahead and create a home base.
There are certain attendees who stay on the same sites every year – some even make their temporary residences into multiple story homes, decorated with items like flamingos and towers.
2. Keith Frank in the Dance Tent
Multiple concerts will be happening at all times at different venues over the course of the festival. The different stages include the infield, grandstand, cabaret and dance tent.
While concerts will be going on all times during the weekend, there is one especially memorable act.
Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band usually take the stage around 1 a.m. and people dance to zydeco music until the sun comes up.
If you make it through Saturday night alive, the morning follows with a kickball game at dawn. Survivors of the dance tent gather on the infield in front of the stage, using t-shirts and other props as bases.
Even though glass is prohibited within the grounds, watch out for the inevitable shards on the infield. Wear soles!
4. Art Barn
While musicians provide the majority of the entertainment at Grassroots, the festival is not just a showcase of tunes.
The Art Barn is set up every year with installation pieces from local artists. This year, artists will also be projecting videos around the festival to create an interactive poetry experience.
Stop by the Art Barn to pick up a full schedule of events.
5. Getting sprayed by the fire truck and jumping in the mud
It rains at least once nearly every year over the course of the four-day festival – with all the foot traffic, mud is almost inevitable, and this makes for an extra place to play. The best mud spots, while they vary, are usually found on the infield. If mud puddles aren’t your thing, don’t leave your rain gear behind.
If it’s hot, attendees can usually find a fire hose to get sprayed down by.
The Grassroots Workshop and Movements tent offers a more intimate setting for festival-goers to gather. Located by the healing arts area, the workshop tent offers a range of classes for people who may want a moment to get away from the bigger crowds.
Morning classes often begin with calmer activities such as meditation, yoga and reiki. As the day progress, classes become more upbeat including activities such as hula dancing, drum workshops and acroyoga.
Check out the entire schedule of events here.
7. Happiness Parade
The Happiness Parade, which is scheduled for Sunday this year, is certainly a one-of-a kind parade which you can’t miss.
Anyone can march in this parade as long as they have something with them that makes them happy. Paraders are invited to gather at the Art Barn at 1 p.m. on Sunday to pick out an item at the Happiness Headquarters. Besides a crowd of happy people, the parade will feature stilt-walkers, jugglers and the Fall Creek Brass Band.
The parade is scheduled to officially begin at 2 p.m.
8. Obviously, the music.
Among all the other activities, the musical talent showcased at Grassroots is something to celebrate. Whether it be local gems, nationally recognized bands or festival favorites, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Grassroots was founded 27 years ago by musicians in the band Donna the Buffalo, who will be playing on Thursday and Sunday.
Ithaca Underground will perform their showcase on Friday, bringing in local artists Sammus, Izzy True, Chris Corsano and Imperials.
Ithaca favorites such as Big Mean Sound Machine, Sophistifunk, John Brown’s Body and The Blind Spots will also be playing over the weekend.
Make sure to plan ahead and check out the full schedule of shows here.
As much as Grassroots is a festival of music, it might as well be a festival of food, too. The grounds are packed with local vendors, food trucks, and all-around delicious snacks throughout the weekend.
Don’t miss out on the Stonecat macaroni and cheese, a slice from New York Pizza, bagel sandwiches from the hospitality tent or anything from Silo Truck.
Grassroots mugs are available for purchase at the hospitality tent or the Collegetown Bagels tent. Each mug is designed differently every year – if you’re a Grassroots veteran and you bring past year’s mugs, you get cheaper refills on beverages.
Feel free to bring your own booze, but make sure it’s not in glass, or it will be confiscated. Festival organizers ask that all alcoholic beverages are kept in cups or coozies.
10. Walking to Rabbit Run, Shur Save or Byrne Dairy for an escape
While the festival is jam-packed full of activities throughout the weekend, if you’re staying for the whole four days sometimes it’s nice to get out.
If you’re in need of some ice cream or other groceries, Byrne Dairy and Shur Save are both within walking distance.
If it gets hot and the fire hose isn’t cutting it, take a walk to Rabbit Run Creek and jump in the water.
Be sure to stay safe and have fun. It’s been said that locals who have moved far away may not come home for Christmas, but do take the time to make it back for Grassroots. It is somewhat like a local holiday, after all.