The Official Parent’s Guide to Independents’ Day

It is the end of an era. For a decade, the Independents’ Day team (which I am honored to be a part of) has helped cultivate creative collaborations and inspire the independent artists, musicians, business owners and leaders of Columbus. This weekend is the final showcase of this annual event, but don’t worry, we have much bigger plans for the future! It is time to strategically abdicate in an effort to make room and opportunity for the next round of creatives to take over.

What began as a fun little beer-fueled street fair back in 2007 has slowly become a vibrant multifaceted celebration of all things Columbus. Through the ID years, our community aged with us, and they, like we, now have children. The festival has adapted to this, but I don’t think we have done it justice by talking enough about how family-friendly we have become. Thus, below are my 10 suggestions towards a parent’s guide to IDX!

  1. kID. In the sixth year of the festival, Ashley Baker (now the 2017 chair of Urban Scrawl and a board member with the Franklinton Arts District), was pregnant and noticed that all of our old friends were pushing strollers and wearing kids on their chests (literally). She noted the calm atmosphere that supported it, but recognized the lack of programming. The following year, Ashley officially joined the leadership team, created a welcoming space behind the Idea Foundry, and started what would become our first festival within the festival. In its sophomore year, she stepped it up with more amenities and more diverse partners. This year they have partnered with Mt. Carmel to bring in a touch-a-truck with their mobile wellness set up. By square foot density, during its open hours, this has become one of the most popular places at all of Independents’ Day!

  2. The music. Everything about the music this year is special. Dereck Dupont and Patrick Locy created the rule for bands to be added that they needed to produce something new and unique. We have bands with choirs, symphonic pieces, projection screens, etc. And this starts at noon each day. Through the generous support of the GCAC, Columbus Foundation and neighboring community partners, we are honored to be able to pay our artists to perform. Bring headphones for the little ones because everyone will enjoy these parts of the party.

  3. The Taivara Trails app. From the folks who digitized the Columbus Coffee Trail and the Short North Art Walks we proudly present the official Independents’ Day app. Think of this as Pokemon Go for our festival goers. All you have to do is visit the mobile site, pick your team (good or evil) and enjoy the festival. By checking in at different locations and for special performances, you can earn points, which you can later redeem at the CD102.5 booth for awesome prizes. This game is fun for everyone, but best when shared with our little friends.

  4. Arrive hungry, leave satisfied. The Independents’ Day food team is amazing and the former food Lieutenant Shelley Mann (food expert, writer and organizer) is now the Captain of this year’s festival, so her team is holding no punches. In addition to the most highly curated line up of Columbus food trucks, they also have a special brunch and a tent in the center of the festival showcasing all things independently delicious.

  5. Speaking of delicious, retired Captain Jacob Wooten has come back with a vengeance over the past several years to create an incredible local drink land/beer garden. Along with wine and liquor, dozens of breweries are bringing their best. Always drink responsibly, have a DD, buy your wife/husband/partner/buddy something nice because some of these drinks will never be available again.

  6. Volunteer. Please set a good example for the minis, plus it is fun.

  7. Tortilla has partnered with EcoLyfe Designs to create a gigantic piñata. This is one of those things that we do not really understand yet, but are looking forward to the unveiling. From what I gather, EcoLyfe is building this giant pinata and anyone can paint it during the day on Saturday. Then on Sunday, it is going to be hoisted up and Walter from Tortilla/Loco Sweets is going to lead the children (and adult children) through an exercise to smash it, releasing hundreds of pounds of traditional Mexican candy and free taco coupons.

  8. Speaking of art things we do not really understand yet, our artists have paired up and created a giant drone-powered floating cloud. Yup! Really weird, perfectly Independents’ Day.

  9. New Americans. There will be a lovely small village. This village is made up of a dozen vendors from every corner of the globe that now call Columbus home. This initiative started at ID last year and has expanded its showcase at Comfest and Hot Times. Thanks to the generous support of Puffin Foundation West and leadership support of Gale Gray, this small section of the festival plot offers international vendors a chance to sell goods, mix, mingle, and collaborate. It is really a beautiful thing, and in a world where our kids are surrounded by negativity in the news, this is a great example of a united world in our own backyard.

  10. Seriously, go to kID. Ashley, Ryan, and their team have worked non-stop for the last three years to make the best festival for our next generation of rockers, rollers, artists, and leaders.

Bringing an end to this chapter is fairly bittersweet, but the opportunity to share it one last time with you and your families makes me extremely proud.

-By Wolf Starr, Contributor

Your Columbus Clippers

Skyline view from Huntington Park

If you’re a parent in Columbus, you’ve probably taken your kids to Huntington Park for a Clippers game. We took our two little ones on a recent Sunday, and we can’t wait to go back.

I’ve been going to Clippers games regularly since childhood (and the days of Cooper Stadium), but the opening of the new ballpark about a decade ago boosted my attendance, even as a childless adult. I’ve always admired the intimate, fan-first design of Huntington Park in that it provides various vantage points and ticket options.

For instance, we started this summer afternoon, sitting in the outfield lawn. After a few innings taking in the game from a blanket spread across the grass, we worked our way around the stadium, stopping at various kids attractions and activities along the way. Strollers are still a necessity for our operation, and not only are Clippers staffers accommodating, but it’s welcomed to move about the facility with one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Adults will be pleased that the beer is reasonably-priced and local options are readily available. The same is true for the food, which ranges from standard ballpark eats to local stops including City Barbeque and Bob Evans.

By the time we made our way to the sea of picnic benches stashed near the right field corner, we were ready for a bite.

As we finished our snacks, we posted up along the railing separating this areas and the bleacher seats. Both us and the kids could easily keep an eye on the action, while still prioritizing our socializing.

The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park
The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park

From this site, you don’t need kids (in fact it probably would be easier) to marvel at the gorgeous views of our city’s skyline Huntington Park has carved out for us.

This was just our second game with little ones, so we are still novices, but after digging into it, they unsurprisingly have an entire season-long program called MVP Kids Club dedicated to children, coincidentally culminating on Sundays. We will certainly look into this next season and beyond.

While we weren’t enrolled in the Club, the kids got to run the bases after the game. This was without a doubt a highlight for them and worth staying for.

Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.
Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.

Since this was my son’s first game, he was sent a certificate honoring this milestone. Hit up Guest Services while you’re there, and they’ll take down your information. It’s really easy and a fun memento.

My son's first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers
My son’s first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers

From my experience, there’s very few activities in central Ohio that are as family-friendly as a Clippers game in Huntington Park, that also satisfies the adults. And I personally take pride in taking my children to an urban environment that is safe and enjoyable for our family.

The season is close to over, so I recommend getting a game in before we are stuck waiting for 2018.