2fer Tuesday: May Festivals in SoCal

Jam session at the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest. Photo via topangabanjofiddle.org.

Spring is in full bloom, the weather’s great, and the days are longer, making May a perfect time to check out an outdoor festival. Here are two upcoming events in the Los Angeles area that have piqued my interest:

Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival, Sunday, May 15: Since 1961, this has been the premier bluegrass, old-time and folk festival in Southern California. The main attraction is the banjo/fiddling contest, with over 100 contestants strutting their stuff throughout the day. But you’ll also enjoy some cloggin’ and square dancin’ in the dance barn, kids’ arts and crafts, organized jam sessions and sing-alongs, folk art booths, and more. It should be a rootin’ tootin’ hoedown–the likes of which you don’t normally see in L.A. Admission is $10.

WorldFest, Sunday, May 22: WorldFest is L.A.’s biggest celebration of Earth Day (though admittedly, it’s a belated celebration given that Earth Day was in April). This solar-powered eco-friendly bonanza features live music, celebrity speakers, informational workshops, over 100 green exhibitors, animal adoptions, activities for kids, and a lot more. I love that it’s a bike/carpool/metro friendly event, and also that they’re striving to make it zero-waste. Admission is $8.

Keep in mind: While food vendors will be present at each festival, a little pre-planning will allow you to skip the typically greasy vittles for sale. Instead, you can pack a tasty picnic to enjoy while taking in one of the music acts. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have good picnic components, but if you want something fancier, try putting together a gourmet picnic from Joan’s on Third or Little Next Door.

Bonus tip(s): If you’d like to avoid admission fees while gaining a hands-on perspective of any festival, try going the volunteer route. Usually you’re able to specify what kind of tasks you want to do, and it’s a cool way to meet new people and get in on the behind-the-scenes action (plus you’ll probably get a free t-shirt and meal out of it).


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