Jenna Zavislan

How to Concerts in the Park

Concerts in the Park is a summertime essential among many residents of Sacramento. If you have yet to attend an event, it’s never too late to give it a go. Each week is a completely different experience and in no way requires regular attendance. Although, once you go, you might not be able to stop.

Located in the heart of Downtown Sacramento, Concerts in the Park takes place in Cesar Chavez Park on the block of 9th and J Street. The repeating concert series occurs every Friday, running from May until the end of July. Always free and for all ages, attending Concerts in the Park is a must do from 5-9 p.m. on a Friday night. Whether you have plans before or after the event, or if you plan purely to soak up some sun and sweet sounds, the event series has everything you need.

Summer is in full-effect, and that Sacramento heat is enough to kill even the chilliest of vibes. So, before you go sprinting to the park on Friday, maximize your fun levels by being at the peak of your mental and physical preparedness. As a frequent attendee, I have compiled a list of a few tips I think will enhance anyone’s trip to Concerts in the Park.Before You Leave:

  • Ask yourself, “Am I hydrated?” If the answer is no, drink some water. If you answered, “Yes,” great job! You are now a successful adult and we can all take a lesson from you. Ok, maybe not, but congratulations either way. That’s more than most of us can say.
  • Check the weather. Let’s be real, we’re in Sacramento so it will most likely be hot with an extra side of HOT. With that being said, please dress accordingly. Yeah, those velvet leggings might make your butt look AWESOME, but polyester fabrics aren’t the most breathable in this unforgiving heat. (PRO-TIP: Dancing and the amount of clothing to be worn are inversely correlated. More dancing= less clothing, but remember to try to keep it family friendly.)
  • Sun/heat protection. Do you burn easily? Do you perspire a lot? Are your eyes sensitive to sunlight? Well, you should probably prepare for all of the above. Since the concerts are located outdoors, there is a definite chance you will be exposed to the elements of the earth. Always wear sunscreen, throw on a swipe or two of deodorant, don’t forget your sunglasses and maybe grab a hat if that’s your thing. The goal is to be as prepared as possible to maximize enjoyment capabilities.
  • Wallet check. Bring cash. Some food trucks and vendors accept card, but in order to get through the lines quickly, it’s best to have sufficient currency. There are usually multiple ATM’s, but who wants to pay for access to their own money? If you’re 21 or older, remember to bring your ID, because the beer tent would be awfully sad if you couldn’t stop by to say hello.
  • Cell phone. CHARGE IT! Let’s face it, we go out to socialize, but our smartphones manage to steal most of our attention. Even if you don’t want to live-tweet each performance or Instagram those delicious street fries, you would be pretty bummed if you lost a friend to a tragic Porta-Potty accident because your cellular device was lifeless.
  • Dancing shoes or lawn chair? There are two types of people who attend Concerts in the Park: those who dance and those who lounge. All right, there are probably more than two types, but the point is to figure out which one you are and act accordingly. Do you plan on walking, dancing or running around saying hi to all of Sacramento? If so, you should wear some comfortable shoes! Otherwise, lawn chairs, blankets, and any other picnic gear is welcome inside the park.

Now that you’ve evolved into a concert-ready super-human, you can lock the door behind you and make your way over to the party. Upon Entry:

  • Be Ready. If you are planning on drinking, have your ID out and ready to be checked. Upon age verification, security will present you with a magical wristband that grants guests the power to purchase and consume alcohol within the vicinity of the park. If you have a purse, bag or backpack, prepare to be searched.
  • Make a plan. You made it in! Now it’s time to meet up with all of those friends who said they were waiting for you at that one place over by that thing. Since the park is ever changing with different food trucks, tents and other types of local vendors, it is beneficial to take a walk around and become familiarized with your surroundings. Pick a spot where your friends, family or whoever else can easily meet up. Hanging solo? Not to worry, you have the greatest luxury of all: freedom to dance, dine and drink as you like!
  • Beer Tent. The Bud Light beer tent is patiently waiting to serve you, and that wristband you got on the way in is your key to collecting beer tokens. Take your wrist and some of that cash over to the beer token line before you try to grab a beer. You can always pretend that you are Super Mario and pocket all of those colorful tokens, or run right over to the beer line and trade them in for adult beverages.
  • Food. Are you hungry or just need a snack? There is always an abundance of food to choose from at Concerts in the Park. You won’t be left in that weird limbo where hungry meets angry, or as the forever hungry like to call it, HANGRY. Hanger prevention starts the minute you walk in. As you scan the perimeter of the park performing echolocation, you should always take mental note of what food stands out to you. Regardless of whether or not you are hungry upon arrival, hanger happens when you least expect it. When heat meets exhaustion, and your body viciously begins to search for any nourishment, it’s nice to know that the smoked oyster stand was neighboring Krush Burger, but that gyro tent also looked good.
  • Vendors. Local artisans and crafters are regularly circulating throughout the park. Spending time at each booth is a great way to get to know the many creatives that shape Sacramento. As vendor attendance is not always consistent, it allows a steady flow of diversity to become showcased. Previously spotted vendors at CIP have been Ana Apple, Plug Club, and Andy’s Candy Apothecary.
  • Kids. Concerts in the Park prides itself on being an all ages event and does a fine job of maintaining its family allure. Children of all ages are welcome to attend because dancing babies are insanely adorable.

Whatever your Friday night plans may consist of, Concerts in the Park is always a genuinely grand experience. There are only three events left in the 2015 series. Come join our community for a night of free music, cheap beer and tasty snacks that will make you wish CIP went on all year round.

Have something to add to the conversation? Tell us in the comments.


Photos | Jenna Zavislan