Mega-fests much more than music

"This is amazing. I've never seen it this crowded before,' said one of my friends about the packed-shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at the Music Midtown Eighth Annual Festival in Atlanta last weekend.

The outdoor music fest was a rock music lover's dream. Fans could watch or listen to music on 11 stages and pick from 130 international, national, and local acts on a 35-acre site located near downtown Atlanta. About 300,000 people attended over the weekend, making it one of the biggest outdoor festivals in the Southeast.

According to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Music Midtown doesn't try to discover the next big rock act. But for sheer diversity, and a bargain price of $35 for three days, it's certainly hard to beat. On one stage you could see Bob Dylan, the next Al Green, the Indigo Girls, or '80s bands like Loverboy and Night Ranger.

My circle of friends managed to watch about six bands over a Saturday and Sunday in the 80-degree heat. And we took delight in people-watching and taking in the Woodstock-like atmosphere. Some festivalgoers showed off temporary tattoos on their arms and legs or wore tall, colorful hats. People came to see and be seen.

Then there were the towering "locator poles," which have become a kind of art form in themselves. As a way to find each other in the milling crowds, people were allowed to carry 12-to-14-foot poles, distinctly decorated with a range of items. My favorite had a pink flamingo mounted on top. Someone had carefully crafted it by hand, creating a bright and clever way to say "Here I am!"

After all, at a giant outdoor festival, it's the whole amazing scene, not just the music, that makes memories.

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