The music festival that babysits your kids

Pickathon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and though it has evolved over time, among the founders' key philosophies is creating a community event. Most adult attendees are hip to the ethos and keep a watchful eye on the kids in their vicinity, related or no.
Rock-a-bye, baby
The music festival that babysits your kids Amelia Pape for Newsweek

'Tis the season of outdoor music festivals, which is great, if you're kidless. Al fresco jamborees from Coachella to Sasquatch may be a worthwhile venue for discovering new artists, flexing some glitter body paint and day-drinking into sunburned bliss. What they're typically not are great places to bring the offspring.

At a working farm on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., there's an annual exception to the rule. Pickathon, Oregon's best yearly musical showcase, not only tolerates the little ones; it encourages them. With interactive shows designed specifically for youngsters, foam bow and arrow lessons, plant identification workshops, animal tracking and even a "chill zone" sponsored by the local Waldorf School, the festival is a utopia for children and parents alike. And families are taking note: roughly one in eight attendees are teens or younger. If they're under twelve, they get to enter this Shangri-La for free.

Pickathon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and though it has evolved over time, among the founders' key philosophies is creating a community event. Most adult attendees are hip to the ethos and keep a watchful eye on the kids in their vicinity, related or no. This takes-a-village vibe allows beleaguered parents to focus on local food from James Beard award-winning restaurants, dancing to their favorite bands and banking the proceeds of babies-turned-buskers, and collecting coins for trailside performances from hand-built cigar box guitars.

Guitar heroes
Families have no trouble entertaining the kids between sets at Oregon’s annual Pickathon Music Festival. Kids carry cigar-box guitars that they created at the Future Bus, one of the event’s many youth-friendly offerings. Winston Ross for Newsweek