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Six Must-Have Things for Summer Concerts

By Marc Acton on July 4, 2014

Summer concert series are uniting and entertaining residents in communities across the U.S.
Staff Photo

As summer gets into its hot, sunny groove, smart cities around the country are setting stages for a tradition that brings people together in cities large and small: the summer concert series. Below, we've put together a handy list of things to bring to a summer concert, which will ensure your experience is as beneficial to you as the events themselves are for a community.

How so? Summer concert series not only unite residents and inspire community pride, but encourage tourism as well as downtown revitalization, says Jason Thiel, president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, which started presenting its DWSP Summer Music Series in 1998.

“I think what has made our event so successful is that it’s free of charge, and the music is always evolving. We’ve had people come from [as far away as] Charlotte and Raleigh, because we’re able to mix musicians from the national level and the local level," Theil says. "We’ve had a lot of great evenings. People have met their future spouses at our events. We’ve even had weddings at our event. I think everybody over those 17 years has a tremendous amount of pride in what we’ve done.”

Some communities use these mini music festivals as a way to raise money for worthwhile community causes. In Pueblo, Colo., the B Street Bash summer concert series has been contributing to the local Crime Stoppers organization's annual budget for 20 years. 

So next time you attend a summer concert, may the sounds be even sweeter now you know your attendance could be for a greater cause. Here are six “must-haves” to make the most of your summer concert series experience:

Blanket or Camp Chair

Even if you’re planning on dancing the night away, the right seating option to use as your base of operations can make or break your music festival experience. Camp chairs are the most comfortable option but require someone to man the fort if you’re concerned that they might walk off with another concert goer. You can never go wrong with a blanket as long as it’s one that you don’t care too much about.

Portable Shade

Take a hint on this one from the soccer moms, the smartest of whom always bring their own shade. For the women, a big floppy hat works well, or if you’re bringing a date, an umbrella will keep you both out of the sun (and give you a reason to sit extra close).


Even if your festival experience will involve imbibing (actually, especially if it does) you need to stay hydrated. You’ll have more energy and generally enjoy your time more. And if the festival lets you bring your own, you’ll avoid paying the inevitable upcharge on this refreshment that you’re sure to want.


More and more portable vendors are taking credit cards, but there are still tons of places you’ll need cash. From parking fees to that food truck that hasn’t yet invested in the iPad with a Square reader, cash will come in handy.


While sunscreen might not improve your concert-going experience, it will significantly improve your post-concert recovering experience. Don’t get burned by forgetting this one.

Dancing Shoes

There’s no better way to enjoy outdoor music than grooving to the beat with several thousand of your closest friends. Keep this in mind when you’re making footwear decisions. The right shoes can mean the difference between dancing the night away and spending the evening perfecting your version of the blister boogie, which no one wants.

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