How to Avoid Starvation at a Music Festival
Festival season is a highlight of summer in Toronto and many other cities; some events being infamous, some low-key. Bran and I chose to go to Bestival this year since we had such a great time last year. Like any event that takes you out of your home for a full day, I had to plan what I would eat and how I would avoid going a full day without sustenance. Here are some of my strategies:
The challenge: Not knowing if there will be food to suit your dietary restrictions.
Being allergic to dairy, nuts, peanuts, and legumes, I generally can't indulge in food truck offerings. Even my dairy allergy is anaphylactic so I can't have butter, cheese, milk, etc. The kitchens in food trucks are small and cross-contamination is nearly unavoidable. The offerings tend to lean towards typical fast foods like tacos, poutine, mac 'n cheese, and burgers which are generally off limits for me. Sharing the oil in a deep fryer between an allergen-containing food and a safe food is enough to cause a reaction. Benadryl works best when not mixed with alcohol and I know that I'll want to have a beer or two at the festival. So it's also not worth taking the risk when I know the antihistamines could potentially be less effective.
The strategy: Eat ahead of time and leave late
I've never been keen on arriving at a festival the moment it starts. My friend and I made that mistake at Edge Fest as teenagers and we learned that it makes for quite a long day. My strategy is to check the lineup and see if there's anyone I really wanted to see earlier in the day. Then, if there is, oh well too bad I'm going in the evening anyways. I find 5 or 6 pm is a good time to arrive because I can eat dinner beforehand but still get there in time to see most of my desired performances and feel like I got my money's worth.
The challenge: Being questioned about medication and snacks
Purse checks don't always go smoothly. I have been questioned in the past many times about my medications; why I carry more than a couple tabs of Benadryl, why I have 2 Epi Pens, why I have either at all. This year at Bestival I wasn't questioned about my medication (thankfully) but I got in trouble for having a banana in my purse. I brought it because I was knew I was going to get hungry later in the night and I thought it was probably the least offensive snack I could fit in my purse. At other festivals I had been allowed to bring in a piece of fruit so it seemed reasonable. The first security guard questioned it and I explained my allergies. She said that seemed fair but she asked her manager who wavered a bit but said she wasn't sure either. They called over their supervisor and so I explained my situation again and that I didn't want to risk fainting if I was to be there for potentially 6 hours without any food. He responded that he hadn't eaten since 8 am but he was surviving. He then said I could eat it right there, but I wasn't about to stand there and eat a banana while this guy watched me. I said he was making an unnecessarily big deal of this and he literally said "too bad" and threw my banana away. It was not the best experience.
The Strategy: Be good at compartmentalizing feelings, buy juice and pop
I was obviously a little humiliated and miffed by the time I got through the entrance but if I wanted to have a good time at the festival I had to fluff it off for the time being. I would have loved to turn around and tell him off but that wouldn't have improved the situation anyways. My friends weren't too happy either that this had just happened but instead of dwelling on the negativity we went and enjoyed ourselves. When I inevitably did get hungry I bought a ginger ale and a water.
Do you have any strategies or challenges to share? Tell me about them in the comments box!