Fans favor festivals…for free

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By Jequcory Davis

College students have a love for music and going to festivals is an awesome way to see their  favorite artists in one place.

But it can sometimes be a hassle. And expensive. Obtaining tickets and getting there can be hard.

But there are all sorts of ways to make it to these festivals. Many people carpool with  friends. That means constant company and someone to laugh with if things go wrong. It also means twice as many resources.

It’s better to travel with companions because if something goes wrong there are people to help, said East Lansing native Da’Ron Butler. And it’s just more enjoyable with friends.

“Going with friends is fun because it’s a road trip with your friends, you all usually bond over music, and it’s just fun to have your people with you,” Butler said.

There are many ways to get into music festivals for cheap or free.

Food vendors usually get to view the shows for free. Volunteers also have easy access.

Originally we had a large crew of friends that we would bring along for the festivals and everyone would just work like three or four hours then switch out and enjoy the festival,” said Ben Schroeder, a Cheese Street food truck owner who has previously worked at music festivals. “In more recent history we have been more focused on the work aspect and bringing less people.

“It’s always fun, however, because more (often) than not the food truck is located near a stage so we are always dancing and having fun regardless if we are on the truck or not.”

Wearing  jackets that identify you as a volunteer or making fake wristbands, sneaking in the dead of the night, climbing walls, faking it as a media person (photographer, videographer, working for a website, magazine etc.) all are ways people sneak in illegally.

A festival favorite of college students is South By Southwest  in March in Austin, Texas, every year. There is interactive media, tech and fashion conferences in addition to the music festival.  

Butler said he snuck in a few years ago.

“It was a piece of cake,” he said. “It was like a little space under the fence that people had clearly snuck in under. I’m short so it worked perfect.”

But there are risks.

Sneaking in can spell an early dismissal if you get caught by security. And it can result in war wounds.

“I ripped my jeans, and scarred my knee jumping a fence for Common Ground,” said Oakland University graduate Aukury Cowart. “It was worth it though, I got to see all my favorite artists for the price of the gas money it took me to get there. You can’t get caught doing that though, or security kicks you out immediately.”

Whether  sneaking in, paying full price for a ticket or working for a food vendor,  attending a music festivals can represent freedom, taking chances and making the best out of situations that aren’t always the best.

One thing all music festivals have in common is they all have success stories of eager kids making it in by some type of unorthodox way. No matter how big or small the festival, someone will try their luck on sneaking in. Some make it, some don’t and that’s the beauty of it.

You can play it safe and buy tickets, but the real thrill is finding your way in for free.