NEWPORT — The Newport Folk Festival is a staple of Newport summers, drawing thousands to the city each year. Still, with ticket prices ranging upwards of $200, it’s not an event everyone is able to experience.
For those who can’t attend this year, here’s a glimpse of what the festival was like on opening day.
A first-timer in the line to get in
From the makeshift grass parking lots, a line of festival goers snakes down the Newport Harbor shoreline toward the entrance to Fort Adams. It’s nearly 10 a.m. now, the gates are about to open for the Newport Folk Festival, and the crowd is baking at about 80 degrees on their way to the security line.
When the gates open, a bagpiper serenades the crowd waiting to pass through security. Chris Shey, a Wisconsin transplant living in Massachusetts, is actually going through the security line for a second time. Cameras with detachable lenses aren’t allowed on festival grounds, he discovered, and so he had to go put his camera back in his car.
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“It’s a long line but at least it’s moving quickly,” Shey said. “At least we’re not in Providence where it’s, what, 10 degrees hotter?”
It takes around 30 minutes to get through the security line and into the grounds. Being a big Bob Dylan fan, Shey said he has always wanted to attend Newport Folk after moving to New England, but he always heard it’s hard to get in. He’s looking forward to hearing Courtney Barnett, an Australian indie alt rock artist, as well as Japanese Breakfast.
“Courtney is the greatest artist of our generation,” Shey said. “When she plays guitar, it’s like a mere extension of her body.”
A marriage before the show
It’s just after 11 a.m. and a young couple is exchanging vows near the entrance to the Quad stage. Dressed in a long blue dress and hair adorned with blue hydrangeas, Lauren Miller married Greg Papp, both of New Jersey, on the same grounds they have attended nearly every year of their relationship.
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“It’s just been our favorite place for forever,” Miller said. “We figured it would be more fun than setting up a reception of some kind, just to bring everyone to a festival.”
A crowd entering the Quad stage area erupted into applause as the couple kissed and embraced the friends and family they brought to the festival. One of Miller’s friends remarked with surprise that the bride got through the ceremony without crying.
“I definitely cried,” Miller exclaims.
An up-and-coming artist on the small stage
On the small Foundation stage stationed kitty-corner to the larger Fort State, Logan Vath of Norfolk, Virginia plays a song called “The Candidate,” to a small but steadily growing crowd. He got the opportunity via Operation Encore, a program for Veterans who are musicians, and had a short window of time to perform in the downtime between Lee Fields and Faye Webster’s sets on the larger neighboring stage.
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“There’s worse ways to spend a Friday,” Vath jokes to the crowd. “I don’t have long with you guys so I’m just going to keep playing songs if you don’t mind.”
A festival veteran facing the hottest time of the year
At 1 p.m., the temperature has picked up by around 4 degrees since the morning.
To beat the heat, a power breezer fan with a water spritzer has been set up at one of the many water bottle refill stations dotted across the festival. Parents lift their children for a small bit of relief while passing between stages.
The heat won’t stop Claire Charlesworth of Brooklyn, New York, from having a good time, however. This is her 10th year at the festival. She passed by the fan for a quick spritz.
“It’s hot, but it’s survivable,” Charlesworth said. “There’s such a breeze and lots of water stations so it’s not too bad, and I have a nice hat.
“I also came here on the Newport Ferry, so that was a nice, cool experience too.”