The second annual Pilgrimage Festival was another fabulous family-friendly event that took place Sept. 24 - 25 at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin. Much fun was had despite the unexpected heat wave for the first weekend of fall, but at least it didn't rain this year! With so much going on, a few standout things are at the forefront of the festival concerning families:

1. It was hot, but the performers were even hotter!

Crowd faves with the kids were The Happy Racers, Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, Ralph's World, Jazzy Ash & The Leaping Lizards and others playing the the Lil' Pilgrims stage. If you made your way to any of the other stages for great music, you certainly encountered many children enjoying the tunes their parents love, too! Our 6-year-old absolutely loved CAKE and BECK! He was a dancing fool when he heard their good vibes. With more than 30 bands on the two-day roster, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

2. Kid fun at the Lil' Pilgrims area!

The Pilgrimage Festival children's area brought back the pirate playship for kids to enjoy. During some points of the day, it looked like the ship was about to sink! It's a small play structure for such a big crowd, and there were so many kids playing there that it was hard to see how they were even able to move around — no one got hurt, thank goodness. The ship's location adjacent to the Lil' Pilgrims stage made it easy for little ones to play while listening to bands playing just for them. This area was the perfect spot for parents taking their kids from one big stage to another — a great place for Mom and Dad to take a break while letting their kids burn more energy. Aside from kid-friendly concerts and the playship, kids also enjoyed activities like balloon artists, craft activities and other festive things to do.

3. Those water refill stations were lifesavers.

Staying hydrated was of utmost importance considering the hot temp and all the dancing to live music. Aside from many food vendors and trucks with ample drink varieties, there were FREE water bottle refill stations! Parents were constantly filling up at them to keep their kids hydrated. I know I was! There was also a misting tent with an aim to help keep folks cool, but my 6-year-old gave it an immediate thumbs down. He hated that he couldn't feel any mist coming out ... and he was right. It was misting around the edges only, and you had to be tall to perhaps feel a little bit of it. Granted, it was likely a last-minute addition due to the unexpected heat, but maybe next year, the festival will consider installing a smaller version just for kids — and short adults!

4. It's OK to nap and just chill.

During the heat of the day, you could turn any corner where there was shade and see someone (including kids) snoozing. That's how chill and relaxing this festival was. Everyone was peacefully enjoying themselves. Bringing a blanket to sit on proved to be worth it if your child wanted to rest from all the playing. All those red-cheeked kids refueled their energy after lunch and a little time to hydrate and cool off before getting back into play mode! Don't let anyone tell you any different ... adults were just as guilty of taking naps as the kids! And that's OK! Lots of folks took advantage of relaxing a bit at the Pilgrimage Festival thanks to a variety of hammocks and portable swings available from some of the festival vendors. There were many other ways to chill, too. For instance, there was a tent filled with TVs so everyone could watch those all-important football games!

5. The night brings out cooler temps ... & the wilder side to kids!

When the sun started to set, a more colorful side to the kids came out. Glow sticks (which families brought in on their own, like us) were popping around the field and the colors started to illuminate the farm grounds in small sections. The kids were having tons of fun wearing them all over their bodies and dancing to the music! The faster the music, the harder they danced. Cartwheels, flips, spins, some weird break dancing moves and you've got a second influx of entertainment! [gallery ids="71007,71008,71009,71010,71011,71012,71013,71014,71015,71016,71017,71018,71019,71020"]

PLAN AHEAD: TIPS FOR NEXT YEAR

  • Pack a blanket and camping chairs for kids.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle.
  • Purchase glow sticks ahead of time to bring with you.
  • Don't forget the flashlight — the trek back to the car at night is really dark in most spots.
  • Bring enough cash to avoid the onsite ATM fees! Because outside food is prohibited, make sure you have the funds to fuel your family from the vendors and food trucks. It gets pricey!
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Pack sunscreen — better yet, put on a layer of it before you leave the house and dose up on it while at the festival.
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizers are a must! Kids get sweaty and sticky and the portable potties run out of water at the hand-washing station.
  • You can bring bug spray, but after both years I've never seen a problem with the insects.
  • Go ahead and splurge on the parking pass ... it's worth it!
  • Bring a football, bouncy ball, frisbee or other toys to play with as there's ample room for it and time between sets.