Despite a lot of ill-advised changes, there is still a lot to love about the festival and though it gets harder to justify the expense each year, we come home quite happy about it nonetheless.
- The Music
The biggie. Although each year is filled with it's fair share of acts that leave me feeling "Meh" and this year in particular, there seemed to be a lack of true bluegrass bands, the music is still great.
The big standouts this year for me, were the Steep Canyon Rangers, a group of traditional bluegrass fellows and Solas, a gorgeous, spectacular band, straight out of Ireland. We listened to Solas on Sunday, my birthday, with a light rain drizzling overhead. It was absolutely wonderful. I was especially flabbergasted watching their accordion player. His fingers were like nothing I'd ever seen!
- The Room
Despite the negatives, our room this year was without question, the best seat in the house. Second floor, closest to the performers, it was just right to sit on the balcony or in the dormer window seat and listen to the bands as a cool breeze blew through the room. The first day, I had a migraine and even held in its wicked grip, I enjoyed lying in the room, listening to the performances. I felt bad for the poor maids that were left to clean our room after four days in it though.... whew!
- The Staff
The resort itself may be doing its part to alienate festival goers and empty their pocketbooks, but the staff at Grand Targhee were still top notch. Every one was friendly and polite, even when delivering bad news.
Sometimes I think that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than the Grand Tetons in late summer.
- Driggs, Idaho
The tiny town at the bottom of the hill, Driggs, ID has a lot of small town West appeal. Friendly folks, fun little shops and a few decent restaurants. Though a lot of their buildings are being overrun with Realtors. It's clear that in a few years, Driggs will be too cosmopolitan to be enjoyable, but for now, I liked it. We wandered the streets slowly, ate an overpriced and unremarkable breakfast at Milk Creek (Our regular feeding hole was closed for remodeling) grabbed some STELLAR sweets at Pendl's Bakery, got a raspberry malt at the corner drug store and bought a couple of used books from a store called "used books"
- Late nights
Booze, bands, fans, friends, mountains, midnight. You add those up, and every night, after the official festivus has ended, as amateurs and pros gather around in impromptu jam sessions, you get a crazy second life to the party. I rarely hit the sack until 3 or 4 am, wandering around the grounds with my friends, imbibing frosty beverages, joking and chatting and listening to the bands echo through the thin air. Saturday, a couple of friends and I sat in the darkness behind the Teewinot and listened to a jam session until 3am. Very cool.
- Family and Friends
The real reason this festival is such a blast, obviously. Every year, we meet with some folks that we love and spend three or four days together laughing, dancing, relaxing and generally hanging out. Some of them we see very rarely beyond that, but we still feel very close to them thanks to this one weekend. If we stop attending, this will be the thing we miss the most.