Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival with Return of Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood at Stagecoach May 4, 2008
Go to the Coachella Valley desert this weekend, April 30 and May 1, for a fun day or two featuring the return of Carrie Underwood (pictured above from Stagecoach 2008 taken by me) to Stagecoach and a variety of other country music and bluegrass musical talents. With the setup still in place from the Coachella Music Festival out in Indio, California, Golden Voice is ready for Stagecoach: this weekend's premiere country festival that is considered the start of the summer music season.
The ExperienceLA blog has covered the Stagecoach Festival since inception, and has previously recommended this as a Family Friendly event (children 10 years of age and under are free with general admission adult tickets) and a Foodie Destination due to the official barbecue competition. According to the official website, tickets are still available that can be purchased onsite or online. The actual lineup for each day should be up on the official website within a day or two of the event. And if you go, make a special effort to see the Stagecoach return of Sara Watkins who grew up playing with Nickel Creek.

For those who have been to the Coachella Music Festival, the atmosphere is in many ways very different, and there are different rules. One very important difference is the ability to bring in a foldable chairs that you can set up by the Mane (main) stage. Arrive early and secure your spot, tie something onto the chair for easy recognition, and do your own GPS calculations to remember the spot, so she can check out the smaller stages that are much more up close and personal. Returning to be out in the sun or under the stars depending on who you want to see from the headliners.

The California State Fire Department does an excellent job maintaining the aisles for the Mane Stage, and thus one can establish the necessary landmarks that will become so important when there are 30,000 people watching Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, and Kenny Chesney along with their projections on enormous video monitors for easy viewing. As the sun goes down out in desert on these Polo Grounds, the setting is very picturesque with the mountains, palm trees, and large scale art displays set against the numbers of people having a good time. Stagecoach has always marketed that their marquee stars are performing full sets from their concert tours.

Not only is this an official barbecue competition, but you get to vote for the selection of the Peoples Choice awards. Yes there is a wide range of food vendors that are part of Stagecoach, but the best mid-day food choices come from the barbecue competition. Almost all of the compititors have pulled pork along with either and chicken or brisket. By 3 pm each day, the computers are usually sold out. By buying a strip of tickets, one is able to sample the different barbecue offerings. Thus, you can eat pretty well on $10, while you grab your favorite beverages from nearby tents. These are secret barbecue recipes so don't expect these competitors to share their secrets. Also, part of the fun is seeing the equipment that they are using for their smoking/cooking process. One time I was surprised to see an old Sazco space age ceramic smoker that was from the late 1960's.

With regard to bringing your children, you will find that there are special musical performances that appeal to a younger demographic along with lots of hands on activities. A great family get-away even just for the day.

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