I performed at the Kansas City Irish Festival last weekend.
Festivals are a mixed bag. My favorites are storytelling festivals, because the sponsors usually understand what the deal is. They realize that storytelling isn't background music. They know that it's counterproductive to have the storytellers next to the petting zoo, or the fountains where children are allowed to play.
At the KCIF, I was facing the main music stage, next to these fountains, with my back to a wall shared by the children's facepainting and crafts. My sound system was good, so the audience could hear me, but the sound bleed from the music stage was so overpowering I could barely hear myself. I'm usually fine with distractions, but in this case I felt like I did a mediocre job. Sigh.
Next weekend I'll be at the Choctaw (Oklahoma) Oktoberfest. No, it's not a Native American festival--the town of Choctaw has a big German festival every year. Last year 35,000 people attended. At this festival, the storytelling stage is also in the children's activity tent, but it's far enough away from the music that all I hear is oompah in the background. I had a great time there last year, except for some car trouble.
I do lots of people watching at festivals. In KC, there were lots of men in utilikilts, children with temporary Celtic tattoos, women wearing "Kiss me, I'm Irish" tee shirts. At the Oktoberfest, I'll see plenty of lederhosen and dirndls, maybe some Tyrolean hats. Both festivals feature beer prominently (not for me, not while I'm working). I had a corned beef sandwich at the Irish festival. I'm sure I'll have bratwurst at the German festival.
At the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, I always have an Indian taco. That one is a huge arts fest, not tied to a certain ethnicity, and I always have fun there. Here I am in Salina this past June with my friend Mavis. She's the one on the left.