My observations of the line procedure

We returned home last night after an amazing time at [my first] TBF!! It really is a well-oiled machine…the organizers do an incredible job.

The line/tarp procedure was one of the biggest unknowns to me, even after reading many posts on this board. So after viewing it in person, here are a few observations:

  • The no sleeping rule was definitely not enforced…pretty much everyone near the front of the line had a sleeping bag and camped out all night.

  • The tarp size rule was not enforced…I saw some truly gigantic tarps.

  • On Friday I got in line around 5:30am and got number 260. My tarp ended up being about 3 back from the beginning of the “high back chair” section. On Saturday and Sunday we got there around 7:15 and got around number 550, and ended up only a little bit further back.

  • I don’t understand why some people get in line in the morning of one day for the next day’s festival. Quite a few folks, in fact. Isn’t the goal of the festival to enjoy the music in the venue, not get your tarp near the very front by skipping the music?

i know two guys that were paid $300/day doing the TARP run. They took turns camping/holding their line spots. [they had top 8 numbers every day] They saw a lot of music, partied alot, paid for their festival tix, and went home with almost $1,000 in their pocket.
That TARP line makes no sense to me but it sure worked for them…

Yeah, the tarps I sat on in the front during my favorite bands looked like pretty corporate types.

my first telluride experience and it was fantastic. i also did not really know what the tarp run was all about other than reading info here before the festival. it sounded really douchy then and certainly lived up to those expectations. thursday we didn’t bother since we wanted to check out what the venue was like. we just roamed around and that was perfectly fine. friday and saturday i did the run from town park. i got in line around 8am each day and got #154 friday and #158 saturday. since all we had was a small blanket for 2 people i was able to get in the low back section to the right of the soundboard both days which was great and really didnt have to work hard for it at all.
some observations:
-town park/warner line rules, i could not believe how many people line up in that other line, just insane.
-tarp sizes are ridiculous. i understand you want to be close to all your friends but since most are never there at the same time there ends up being way too much wasted space. i understand the rule is any unused tarp space can be “borrowed” until the owners return, but in reality this hardly happens all that much. many times the owners of the tarps never even showed up until the last set to claim their tarp, so obviously groups put down multiple tarps and end up using only the closest one.
-i am a bit of an egalitarian. i find it a bit unfair the same people are always up front no matter how hard they have to work for it. randomizing the numbers would go a real long way in fixing this inequality and would also allow for people to actually sleep in their tents, beds, etc.

i probably wont ever come back to telluride, its just too far and we have plenty of great music fests out west that are so much more mellower. but i loved the music and the scenery was awesome.

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There is a sign at the beginning of the line in Warner Field that lists the rules. EVERY rule was flatly ignored an nobody cared. The first 50 or so chairs in line did not move for the ENTIRE festival. One guy had a propane coffeemaker that sat on the same rock all week. People just got their numbers and left their chairs for the next day.

The line/number policy is INSANE. PB is saying: “OK, pay us $300, then stay up all night to get a reasonable seat for the next day. Oh, by the way you must sit upright and may not sleep”. WTF??? Why don’t you come out and throw rocks at us and don’t give us numbers if we flinch?? I can’t imagine how this policy developed, but it IS the reason my family and I won’t be back next year. We are on VACATION for pete’s sake!

So, after sleeping in line every night I got somewhere between 65-75 for a #, so we got a good spot. By 4pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we were completely overrun with drunk frat boys to the point that we had to pull our tarp up and leave. Then we just wandered on foot or went back to camp to listen. POOR job on the line and security Planet Bluegrass. VERY POOR.

I used to have a boss that said you aren’t allowed to complain unless you offer a solution, so here it is: hand out the numbers, randomized, to people who want one as they leave the festival. Then they have all night to trade/buy/give away numbers to get the spot they want, then line up an hour before gates.

The policy as it exists only benefits those who can pay people to sleep in line for them or large enough groups that can divide duties.

All that said, the music was OUTSTANDING.

Reading these kinds of posts after a wonderful week really confuses me. How about focusing on the great festival that PB throws every year. This was my 6th year and the tarp line has always been the same. People are more that willing for you to hang with them if you ask politely and are respectful. Telluride Bluegrass is by far one of the most well run festivals out there. Glad I can be a part of every year.

I agree with every part of this, but the festival could be soooo much better. Just because things have been this way is not a reason to keep them. And I can’t exactly take the whole family with chairs around asking to use tarps. And again, good spots don’t matter if you want to chill because you are going to be overrun by the single day cheeseheads.

  1. Randomize the numbers
  2. Sell fewer/no single day tickets.
  3. Book BLUEGRASS & COUNTRY bands.
  4. Step back and enjoy your much improved festival.

I abhore negativity, but it’s a good idea to reflect on the event and try to improve it. That’s not being negative.

I definitely see all of the issues here, but without tarps I think there would be a LOT more standing and the festival would be a very different experience, one that I am sure many would not enjoy as much. Maybe I’m wrong there.

That said, whatever the rule is, I don’t see the point in making one without a plan to enforce it somehow. I’m all for optimism for the kindness of humanity, but it sounds like several of the rules need tending to, both in assessing what the rules are intended to accomplish and in assessing whether or not that accomplishment is achieved.

Tarps are fine. I’m not sure why you would even want one at Red Rocks, but it’s the assignment of the numbers for the tarp run that is an issue, not the tarps themselves.

I guess the idea is that the guy with hundreds of $$ available to buy #1 won’t go away, but the ability to find #1 (in the hands of someone willing to part with it, no less) changes with random assignment, right?

Hell, I’d rather sleep somewhere comfortable than in line – that’s why we were right around 500 every day – but if I could get a decent # and sleep? That would, indeed, be awesome :wink:

Hi, this was my first festival, too. Let me say, first, that it was outstanding and I am absolutely going to try to make it back!

I was in Warner and got in line every morning 30-60 minutes before the gate opened, and I sat within a tarp or two of the middle aisle every day, so I cannot complain about not being able to see or sit or enjoy myself. I didn’t think it was such a big deal that folks were breaking the rules, although clearly they were. That large group of chairs that was continuously left around the volleyball court puzzled me.

In college, we had a line policy for basketball games is (in theory) similar to the system at TBF: get in line basically whenever you want for each individual game and you will be rewarded with a correspondingly good spot. It is different in that a particular group of students do line checks during the day or night leading up to a game, and if you aren’t present, you forfeit your spot. Only a certain number of people can reserve space for a certain larger group (something like half of the group must be present). I don’t think Planet Bluegrass needs such a system, but it would be an intriguing experiment.

From the Vancouver Island Festival. Scroll down to the “Blankets and Tarps” section. How would this go over at TBF?

It would be an improvement

Agreed. So take the current “low-back chairs only” section and make it a standing/dancing/no-chair section, for people to come and go as they please throughout the day. Then the “high-back chair section” can be for tarps no larger than 5’x7’, but actually enforce this by coming around early and making people fold their tarps if they’re too big. The sun shade area can remain the same. And I also agree that randomizing the numbers would be an improvement and would end the ridiculous overnight camping in line.

Even tho I don’t think anything is gonna change, here’s an idea I had on the random number thang. And just to keep it simple, I’ll refer only to the Town Park/Warner Field tarp line.

Every one already gets a wristband to attend, and every wristband already has a number on it. If those wristbands were given out in a RANDOM order instead of sequentially, those numbers could be used to designate your daily line spot. Though I don’t know exactly how many TP/WF tickets there are, let’s say there are 2,000 for this example. On Thursday, the line would start with wristband 0001. Friday 0500, Sat 1000, Sunday 1500.

At 8 am (adjust times for actual gate openings), everyone lines up according to their wristband number and is presented with one of the normal line numbers. The person with the numbered wristband would then be able to pass that number along to their tarp runner. At 9 am, the number holding runners would move into position after holding up their CORRECTLY sized tarp for all to see (perhaps there would be a maximum sized tarp hanging on the fence to compare them to). They would then have an hour to re-fold/roll. At 10, cue the bagpipes and run like the wind!

The big camps would retain the ability to score great seats because they can look for the best wristbands amongst their entire group. But even the people who come alone or in small groups would have the chance to sit close at least one or two days. Smaller tarps (that we are already SUPPOSED to use) would give even more people a chance to get a great seat at least one of those days.

However I DO think humongous tarps should be allowed. It’s important that large parties of friends get to sit together and enjoy the music. Just allow them ONLY behind the low-chair area. The big camps could have a couple of smaller tarps up in the low-chair area, and their humongous one half-way back. That way more people have a chance to get those primo seats.

Like I said, I don’t think it’s gonna change, but I thought I’d throw out the idea anyway.

Myself and one other person got in line each day 15 minutes before the gates opened to put our 2 reasonably sized tarps down for our group of 14 people. We got the same great spot every day. I don’t think that would be the case on the regular entrance, but coming in from TP/Warner entrance was a lot easier than I had expected.

I’ve been reading about this for years. Limiting tarp size is the only way to make it work. Period. If anyone breaks the rules, security can walk up and tell you to remove it. If they’d enforce it, it would work. As Oddfired said, there’s no way to drag around your family from temporary spot to temporary spot. That would not be enjoyable.
I suspect the reason PB staff doesn’t enforce this is because they don’t want to, and I doubt it would be much fun for the security folks. BUT-- if they did it for just one year, it would get progressively easier.
Every year when I write this, several people speak out against it (I know who they are, as I am friends with most of 'em!!) and they all have the big tarp system down, which works for them and their entourage. But it does not work for most of the others.
I don’t even have a dog in this fight (I work on lighting and sound ) I have a backstage pass. But my friends don’t, and they think it sucks. I wholeheartedly agree with them.

The tarp line/number system is rigged and feels like it’s run by a small mafia. I saw several transactions of money for numbers. One guy had 5 numbers and sold the higher numbers for more money. Number 91 went for $60. Why do I have to get in line very early in the morning just to secure a spot??? Please change this PB!

I agree that the presence of tarps is not the issue, just brought up the recent change in policy @ Red Rocks because this thread was here now & I didn’t want to “stir the pot” during the festival when this news broke last week.

At Red Rocks, tarps were purely a way of saving space in a GA setting (save for the occasional downpour where it provides nebulous shelter); however, it’s not quite as clear cut at TBF, as some might argue it provides protection against the mud (when it rains) … yet I believe it’s mosty a way to save space for a group. Which is fine to a point, but I think it’s become abused as a means to implement quasi reserved seating in what is technically a GA situation.

The systems which have evolved have become extremely difficult to compete against unless one joins the game - only further escalating the competitive element in what ought to otherwise be a relaxing long weekend of music.

I believe some form of randomization – which is non-transferable – would go a long way to break up the “tarp mafia”, IMO.