I moved here in November of 2000 and my first (and until this past weekend, only) Saturday In The Park was July of 2001. Now, the reason I hadn’t gone back is twofold: I don’t like crowds and I don’t like heat. This year I went as part of my job at the station and here’s what I learned:
1. It grew.
Obviously when something like SITP has been going strong for 22 years it evolves. If memory serves (and it rarely does) last I was at SITP it had a 2nd Stage, beer tent and Port-A-Potties. Now there’s vendors everywhere (food, drink, clothes, art…), Art Alley, a Kids Zone and more.
2. Fashion before comfort, for many.
Weather for SITP was not nearly as dreadful as the week before. But with highs in the upper 80’s and humidity, it was still hot. Nevertheless, some folks thought fancy full length dresses, tweed jackets and flannel was more appropriate than a t-shirt and shorts. The need to always impress continues, no matter how sweaty you get.
3. Sandals and socks are ok.
Fyi, they’re not.
4. People still complain even if it’s free.
SITP’s hot topic every year is the bands. Some like some of the bands, some like all the bands and some like none of the bands (but still go). Wilco was a polarizing choice to headline this year. The band is a critic’s favorite, their fans swear by them and they’re Grammy winners. But without much (if any, locally) radio play, they aren’t a household name. So many weren’t happy with them being the headliner. In fact I heard one attendee say “If this wasn’t free, I wouldn’t be here”. Breaking: you don’t have to be there. It’s free, just enjoy the people watching. Which leads us to…..
5. People watching doesn’t get any better.
The mall, Rivercade Parade, Musketeer/Bandits/X’s events, 4th Street after midnight…..all great people watching places. But nothing, I repeat nothing, compares to the great Sioux City get together that is SITP.