DelFest 2019: 5 Reasons to Go DELuxe
Header Image Credit: Emiline Fitzgerald
DELUXE at DelFest
“You’re the 1 percent!” joked my friends at camp when I said I was headed up to the DELuxe Lounge for Happy hour at DelFest. I laughed along with them.
But really, when you think about it and breakdown the $665 ticket price tag for the DELuxe Experience and everything it includes, it adds up to be a priceless way to experience DelFest.
Early Entry : easy check-in, parking and camping
The anticipation leading up to DelFest can feel unbearable. You’re trying to finish things up at work before the Memorial holiday weekend nears, but you can’t even concentrate. All you can think about is being in the lush green mountains of Maryland listening and dancing to your favorite music with your friends and family.
I made a last-minute change to my vacation request from work because I couldn’t wait until Thursday to arrive. A good friend of mine was in the Banjo Academy that happens days before the festival begins. She was already there, and I was anxious to see her. By the time I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, they were closing out the academy lessons with a very special experience of playing a song of choice with Del, Robbie, Ronnie, Jason Carter, Sierra Hull, and other great music teachers.
Plus, arriving early on Wednesday, I was able to avoid any lines at the check-in office or at the festival gate. I set up my little camp with my friends just behind the Pavilion. The Deluxe camping area offers camping and parking close to all the action in the Music Hall, the Grandstand entrance, and it’s close to the running bathrooms.
Location, location, location is everything at festivals, too.
Value of on-site festival parking: $70
Value of early check-in: Time is priceless.
Music all day...and all night!
On top of the regular festival entry pass, your DELuxe pass also comes with access to all the late-night shows. There’s no need to worry about buying those tickets separately.
This year Billy Strings late-night was the hot ticket, and it sold out quickly. With DELuxe, you don’t have to worry about being shut out of any of the late nights.
If you’re unsure whether you can power through the 12-hours of music into the late-night early morning hours, the extra cost of this may not benefit you. Because entry is part of your wristband, there’s no way to sell your ticket if you can’t attend.
Value of Late night: $25 per ticket
Value of festival ticket: $200+ per ticket
Off to the side of the Grandstand Stage, underneath the big shaded tents, the DELuxe Lounge offers relief from that humid Maryland heat. Pictures of Del, with his family and friends, adorn the walls as mementos of times in great bluegrass history. Chairs and couches give patrons a nice place to kick back and relax, as if you’re in a family room. Family is, after all, at the core of DelFest.
With the DELuxe happy hour, festival volunteers provide fresh vegetable and cheese trays, granola bars, and snack mixes to keep the hunger at bay. It provides some nutrition in between meals. The humidity and heat at DelFest can be extreme. The vitamin water and lemonade served as a hydration life-saver during the day.
Value: This one is tough to decipher. It depends on how much you drink and eat at the lounge. One would have to purchase vitamin water and food and keep it in the cooler all weekend. Which means ice, which melts fast in this heat. Ice costs $7 a bag on the lot. Vitamin water or bottle of soda can cost up to $3 at events. Granola bars and snack nut mixes can also cost $2-$3 a bag sometimes. So, depends on how much you would eat to say the value of these treats.
Grandstand Pit Access
Do you like to be up close to see the musicians? Do you like to see their facial expressions and watch how fast their fingers move? Another perk of the DELuxe ticket is that it offers this close pit access to the stage. And, there’s plenty of room to dance!
Without my DELuxe ticket, I seriously doubt that I would’ve been able to ride the rail when The Travelin’ McCourys called out their Dad, Del, to sing Happy Birthday in celebration of 80 years of his legendary life. Nor would I have been so close to witness that historical String Cheese Incident set where members of the Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCourys and Billy Strings came out to play. Experiencing those special music moments so close to view & to capture the action is priceless to me.
It’s always nice to take a little bit of DelFest home with you as a sweet reminder of all the fun memories that were made. The DELuxe experience package includes a poster, t-shirt and other trinkets handed out in the DELuxe lounge. These are souvenirs I’d usually purchase anyhow, so to have these as part of the DELuxe package seems like a standard I’m willing to pay for.
Value: $50-$60 Typically $25 t-shirt and $25 for a poster.
Is the $665 price tag worth the DELuxe experience?
It is for me. I fly into this festival, which means I have limited camping gear. I rely on the comforts and conveniences included as part of the DELuxe experience. The vitamin water, vegetables, and granola bars really helped me survive the humid heat, which kept me properly hydrated and nourished throughout this music marathon weekend.
Above all, being able to participate and witness the great musical moments made at DelFest were worth every penny.
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