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By Carrie Whitney
If you’ve attended the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival before, you know how great it can be to spend one of summer’s last weekends outdoors enjoying the city’s oldest park, running into your neighbors and watching your kids overdo it on snow cones. However, with some strategic planning, you can maximize your Summer Shade experience, and get even more pleasure out of your last hurrah of the season. Be sure to ride your bike to the festival this year, and valet it with the Atlanta Bike Coalition who will be onsite all weekend.
Start the weekend early by running, walking or crawling through the Adams Realtors 5K Run for the Park. This pleasing 5K follows a path through the historic Grant Park neighborhood and will prepare you for indulging during the rest of the weekend. The festival officially opens at 10 am., and you can hit the Artist Market right away to find works in all kinds of media like painting, sculpture, jewelry, fiber and more. Be sure to pick up a festival guide when you enter so that you can keep track of the entertainment schedule.
On Saturday, provided that you are over 21, lunchtime means Taquerias & Tequila, a new ticketed event within the festival where you’ll get to sample South of the Border fare, a variety of tequilas and plenty of cerveza. Find Taquerias & Tequila in the Pavilions opening at 1 pm.
After lunch, relax in the shade at one of the two live music stages. With a line-up that gets better every year, you can expect to hear jazz, folk, soul and anything in between. This year, Summer Shade is thrilled to welcome back Michelle Malone and James Hall. You also won’t want to miss JUNGOL, The Higher Choir, Georgia Soul Council or Andy Browne Troupe, just to name a few. Plan to spend many hours being entertained by the diversity of sounds at the festival. At 10 pm., Summer Shade closes, and you’ll need to get some rest for another big day tomorrow, but this time with the kids.
Your Grant Park Summer Shade Festival Sunday begins at the award-winning Grant Park Farmers Market, which is open from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. By 11 am, the festival will be in full swing, and you can take the little ones directly to the Carla Smith Kids Zone where you’ll find entertainment, crafts and activities just for younger festival attendees.
After a couple hours in the Kids Zone and probably a few turns on the Spider Jump, you can lure your tykes away with the promise of a funnel cake, and settle back near a stage to hear another favorite band. Food and drink options abound throughout the festival, or if you are kid-free, you can always revisit Taquerias & Tequila. Before going home at 7:30 pm, be sure to go back by that artist booth and pick up that piece you’ve had your eye on all weekend.
While you’re having all of this summer fun, keep in mind that you are doing it for a good cause. The Summer Shade Festival supports the work of the Grant Park Conservancy, the organization responsible for maintaining Atlanta’s oldest city park.