Apparently it didn't make any difference where the festivities were because the place was packed. The whole field in front of the school was full as were the open areas around the library. I noticed people also setting up at the areas of Boys Ranch that aren't closed by the construction and places in between. One big change this year was that the parking at Boys Ranch was open to the public and it was pretty near full by 7:00. Another change is that the temporary No Parking signs moved south and east from the usual streets and neighborhoods.
Bedford again provided free parking and $5 per person shuttle buses from Pennington Field to the 4thFest site. I guess the thing to do is have a designated driver drop off a car full near the site then only pay for one shuttle ride. My better method is to walk the two or two and a half miles from my place to the venue. No parking hassle, no waiting on shuttles. Plus of course you get exercise and burn calories. Have another beer without the worry of gaining weight or getting a DWI ticket.
The food vendors were mostly about the same mediocre group that has been at past 4thFests. The usual carnival stuff. One addition was a large trailer that served funnel cakes. It was doing a booming business with lines all the way across the roadway. Never underestimate people's ability to consume junk food. Even saw a firefighter and a cop (of course) with one. The best choice I saw was a small tent serving pulled pork sandwiches and beef tacos. I had the pork and it was OK. There is always better quality and selection at the Labor Day BluesFest, probably because it is a 2½ day event that includes a barbeque cookoff.
Besides the temporary change in venue, the big news was the addition of beer and wine at this year's 4thFest. Selection was limited to about four Bud brands and only one red wine. Still, they had Ziegenbock which is acceptable. It seemed to be successful since I saw a whole bunch of people drinking beer and absolutely nobody displaying drunken behavior. My only problem was that I went to get a final beer at 9:40 to watch the 10:00 fireworks only to be told that alcohol sales ended at 9:30. Oh well, better scheduling next time.
The band was OK. They played a varied mixture of rock songs from the 60's through the 80's plus a couple of contemporary songs. They are called Deja Groove and are a local D/FW group. My only complaint is that their breaks were longer than their sets. Since the 4thFest band is usually on (off & on) from about 5:00 to 9:30 maybe Bedford needs to have two or more bands doing shorter sets.
The classic car show was not as large or well staged as other years. I think that was mostly poor planning since there should have been plenty of room, even more than there is at Boys Ranch. As usual there were some pretty nice rides and a few clunkers. Of course the best car was the same model that is always tops. It is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. It is a car I always wanted. The closest I ever came was when my dad bought a '64 Chevy Bel Air but that is not even close to the same thing. Even after all these years it is a beautiful car. So much more interesting than the generic cars we have today. Back in the 50's and 60's, every car model had a distinct design and often a distinct sound. Not now, with few exceptions all cars in the same price range look pretty much alike.
My few suggestions would be:
- More trash cans and maybe some recycle bins for aluminum and plastic containers.
- More continuous music. 15 minutes of music followed by 30 minutes of silence is not ideal.
- Better lighting. This may be a problem only at Old Bedford School, but the hill between the Old School and Library was not well lit. A couple of concession stands were in the dark too but that may have been the vendor's fault.
- A better layout for the classic car display. A more defined and better area.
So, the Bedford 4thFest seemed to be a success. I had a good time and that's the most important thing. There were a few things that need improvement but nothing major. Based on the major delays in the construction at Boys Ranch, I would not bet that the 4thFest for 2016 will be back there. That's OK because Old Bedford School has proved to be a very acceptable venue.
Happy 4th, now 5th, of July to all. What's next, Labor Day?