Review by: Connor McAuliffe
Photos by: Connor Hayes
GRiZ family and Florida GRiZ family: Photo from Erin Leader Photography
Underneath a crisp sunset, a gathering of fools came together to get funky in sunny St. Augustine, Florida. Most people think of St. Augustine as a tourist spot to come explore the history of the oldest town in the United States, but this weekend brought together many familiar funky faces. This was the inaugural year for A Fool’s Paradise and was it simply everything a fool could ask for!
How To Get There
Venturing to St. Augustine is by all means fairly easy to get to. The closest airport is the Jacksonville International Airport that is located an hour north of St. Augustine and the next closest airport is the Orlando International Airport that is roughly about an hour and a half south by car. The venue is within very close proximity of the hotels and houses and would take no longer than a 10-20 minute car ride (with minimal traffic) or catch a cab or an Uber for about $10-$30 depending on your location. The venue also provided on site parking for $10 a day.
Various options for lodging were approximately $80-$160 a night. There was also a “Fool for Love VIP Package” that included a 2-day VIP wristband, free access to both of the late night shows, priority seating to the pit area and seating, discounted beverages, access to an exclusive artist happy hour, and a Fool’s Paradise poster and shirt that ranged from $400-$475 per person. Some also had the choice to camp at an offsite KOA Campground, which is only located less than a mile from the venue. Camping was limited to 250 people for $75 and would grant you access to the 2-day festival. Each person needed his or her own camping pass to stay for the 2 days.
With this year being the inaugural year for A Fool’s Paradise, there were approximately 2,000-2,500 attendees who came to get the funk down. The security lines to get in were moving rapidly to get everyone into the amphitheatre as quick as possible. The capacity for the St. Augustine amphitheatre holds around 4,000 people, which made it nice for everyone to have enough space to dance with their friends and strangers alike.
Goldfish crowd with Beach Bums & Babes: Photo by Connor Hayes
Diversity of all ages were amongst the crowd ranging from attendees as young as 10 years old to others that had to be about 50 to 60 years old. This was an all ages’ festival, which made it enjoyable for everyone. Each day was a different theme of costumes to wear. Friday’s theme consisted of Beach Bums & Babes and Saturday was swarmed with Pirates & Pranksters. Each day, you had a mix of people sporting different outfits to show off their support for the artists performing or others abiding by the costume themes. There weren’t very many packed areas besides the pit, which made it nice for everyone to have enough room to either groove to the music or sit down and enjoy the show from the seats.
A handful of Lettuce: Photo by Connor Hayes
Lettuce crowd with Pirate costume: Photo by Connor Hayes
Lined up in a row, the parking lot consisted of a few delicious local food trucks that were flaunting different styles of unique dishes. These ranged from unique quesadillas to smoothie bowls with dozens of fresh fruits. These creative plates ranged from about $7-$10. Inside the venue, there had a few concession stands that carried some burgers, pretzels, and popcorn. Aside from the amphitheater concessions, there were also some side-wet bars that sold beer and liquor as well as two other tents that sold some frozen rumrunners and margaritas. There was an excellent range of different local foods to sample as well as a wide variety of drinks for any attendee to enjoy throughout a busy day of grooving.
Hot Rod’s Mobile Muncher Food Truck
What VIP has to offer
Off to the side of the stage, there is a side bar for VIP patrons with discounted beverages under some shade. This area had enough room for everyone there to have enough space to move around amongst the crowd and still enjoy the atmosphere. If you aren’t socializing in the VIP bar, there is preferred seating at the amphitheater, front and center, in front of the pit. The artist happy hour was also included for VIP patrons to participate in to meet and greet a few artists and enjoy drinks and small talk. VIP also granted free access to both of the late night shows to see Vulfpeck and Break Science on Friday or Goldfish and the Fools of Funk Supergroup featuring members of Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, and the Nth Power on Saturday. This package also included a Fool’s Paradise poster and shirt to top off all of the other perks. For $150 for 2 days, I totally think everyone should consider investing in the VIP experience.
Things To Do
If you aren’t getting funky with everyone at the amphitheater, St. Augustine has various local attractions:
- St Augustine Beach and Pier
- The Fountain of Youth
- Augustine Distillery
- Hot Air Balloon Rides
- Deep Sea Fishing
- Castillo de San Marcos Tour
- Alligator Farm & Zip-Lining
- Local Golfing
- Ghost Tours
For more information and details on these local attractions, please visit http://www.foolsparadisefl.com/localattractions/
Beach crowd: Photo by Connor Hayes
Sailing with the Shady Horns: Photo from A Fool’s Paradise Facebook
What Makes This Festival Different
- Artist Excursions: Aside from all of the music each day, A Fool’s Paradise decided to think outside of the box and created multiple events on Saturday during the early afternoon for people to get the chance to enjoy an event with some artists. These events included zip lining across the alligator farm with Break Science’s Borahm Lee, sailing with Lettuce’s Shady Horns, or play mini golf with Lettuce’s Adam Deitch and Jesus Coomes. Each excursion required you to purchase a ticket to participate.
- GRiZ and Lettuce collaboration: For the first and only time, funk producer/saxophonist GRiZ set aside his computer and performed with Lettuce with the full live band. What I found to be extremely interesting is that Ida Hawk and Muzzy Bear got to perform alongside as well after performing with GRiZ during his set. Lettuce GRiZ performed for only 30 minutes
- Artist happy hour: VIP perks included access to a side bar to right of the amphitheater stage with discounted beverages. Each day included an artist happy hour where a few artists would come out and have a few drinks. What made this so unique is that each artist who participated was willing for photo opportunities, signatures, and small talk with every attendee who had the chance to start up a conversation. This was such an incredible experience because Nigel Hall and Adam Deitch were the first artists I have had the opportunity to meet.
- Wedding Bells: Before Vulfpeck performed, there was a wedding where Jimmy and Nicole Tripp exchanged their vows and tied the knot. This was a very special moment for not only the couple, but for everyone to witness it. Congratulations to Jimmy and Nicole Tripp on the marriage!
As I inform any festival attendee, I usually recommend bringing a camelback to hold any belongings you may potentially. These items include:
- Cell Phone
- Rain Jacket
- Any Merchandise Purchased
These are just a few necessities that I always carry in my camelback. I listed a rain jacket just because it rained for a little bit during the festival and did not want to be soaked. Another tip is to arrive early to avoid lines. Although the lines to get in to the amphitheater were not long, I recommend checking out an artist that you have never listened to before.
Overall Rating 10/10
The overall experience for A Fool’s Paradise was near to picture perfect. Of all the many festivals I have attended, this has by far been the most enjoyable crowd I have been surrounded by. I wouldn’t have wanted to be with any other friends to share the wonderful vibes and music with. A Fool’s Paradise was a huge success and I expect this to become bigger and better in 2017 and the years to follow!