This is a fantastic festival.. It should definitely be on your todo list. While Taos, NM strikes me as a strange environment (more on that later), the festival is a very friendly atmosphere with a beautiful vibe an spirit. Michael Hearne has developed a beautiful festival over the years, and at least 2/3rds of the attendees are repeats. There might be more newbies, except they set a limit on the number of tickets sold and the RV park sells out early.
The musical line-up; WOW.. Just wow… 2019 Thursday (first day) was one of the best day’s lineups I’ve ever experienced, Highlighted by Ray Wylie Hubbard in the next to the last act. Lots of Western and Texas country/swing. Kerrverts will feel right at home. Friday’s highlights for me were Trout, Terri Hendrix, Darrell Scott with the The Lost Austin Band closing out the night. I don’t think i stopped smiling/laughing for the entirety of the Lost Austin performance.
Here was the lineup for the 2019 festival: http://bigbarndance.com/performance-schedule/
Trying to come up with a set to skip in order to take a nap, or get something to eat at the RV is a futile endeavor. When I was at Kerrville, the Big Barn Dance had a full page ad. When i saw the line-up, i just took out my phone while i was sitting at Kerrville’s mainstage and ordered tickets and RV camping right then. This was in May, and there were still RV spots available.
There are about a dozen food vendors and 15 – 20 craft vendors. One of the vendors does some of most beautiful, intricate tie dye I’ve ever seen… There IS an ice cream vendor and it’s good ice cream. The texas BBQ vendor was disappointing. Another vendor had good pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. There’s a wine and beer tent and you can bring it from there into the festival tent.
Mainstage is a large tent with approx 1,000 seats plus a VIP area that seats another 200+/-. Chairs are provided (bring cushion(s)) and you can also set-up your own chair in the back, but during the day, you’ll be in the sun..
The sound is good, although the mix generally has the voices a bit too far back. Also, i was sitting in the middle, right behind the sound guy, and auxiliary speakers line the sides of the tent. Being in-line with the extra speakers, the high end and clarity of speech was not good were i sat. It was much clearer all the way in the back of the tent… Take this with a couple of grains of salt, as i wear hearing aids, but i had them set to crank up the high end and emphasize speech and it was still difficult to catch the words.. As I said, this only applies to the middle of the audience where i sat. Late Saturday night, i moved up 5 rows, and the difference in clarity was significant.
Security is at both the main entrance and the back entrance to RV camping. No food or drink is allowed to be brought in.
Unlike the last festival (four corners), dust has not been an issue here.
There is NO after show song circles that i could find. I guess at this altitude everyone just goes back to their hotels or falls asleep in their RV’s after the show. They do set up campfires for song circles behind the main festival tent, but after mainstage, everything emptied out completely.
This is a festival i would definitely do again. It’s such a nice festival, it would even draw me out west again if i’m even part way there..
Location: Festival takes place in Kit Carson Park, Taos, New Mexico. Right in the middle of downtown old town Taos,
Getting There From Santa Fe, take NM 84 and 68. approx. 2 hours 80 miles total.
Music: WOW.. just Wow.. Lots of Texas and Western Swing, sone singer songwriter and a smattering of bluegrass and roots. Just 1 stage, althought Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines did a songwriting workshop the the Taos Community building next door.
RV and camping Information: There is no tent camping at Kit Carson Park. Only RV camping, and it usually sells out very early. Only about 40 spots for the festival. No hookups at all. Generators are allowed until 10PM. Park entrance is tight for large RV’s. Signage is NOT very clear. Do not enter at the traffic light at the front of the park. Continue north until the next right turn. RV sites at the festival are $50 a night. There is no advance line-up for good RV spots, as all spaces are pre-assigned to maximize the use of space.
Weather: The days have been in the 80’s with a very bright sun (7,000 feet elevation) and nights around 45-50. As the afternoon moves on, a regular breeze came up getting stronger as the shadows grew longer. Since this is an in-town festival, it can still be comfortable at midnight, but early in the morning, it’s common for the temps to drop into the mid-high 40’s.
Volunteering: Lots of volunteering opportunities.. There’s some rules.. Here’s the link:
Songwriting Contest: No songwriting contest at this festival.
Internet: AT&T and Verizon phones, AT&T Tablet and Verizon hotspot all work well at both mainstage and the campground. The external MIMO antenna on the Verizon hotspot moved it from 3 bars up to 4. My Sprint hotspot did not work at all.
Festival Negatives: Hardly any, and they’re all minor… No hookups in the RV park. Can’t bring bread into the festival site.. No song circles.
Festival Website: http://bigbarndance.com/