Blue sky, towering Ponderosa pine trees and a substantial yellow- and white-striped tent greeted arrivals at the MeadowGrass Music Festival Friday afternoon.
The fifth year of the three-day Memorial Day weekend festival kicked off without a hitch at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest.
Local band Burn the Maps opened the event. Their indie folk rock music swelled out of the tent, as food, drink and craft vendors set up their wares. People trickled in two and three at a time, pulling wagons, carrying blankets, backpacks and hula hoops - a favorite festival activity.
Twenty-four local, regional and national bands will play this weekend, including the highly anticipated Dawes, a Los Angeles rock band, on Saturday, and Todd Snider, an Austin singer/songwriter, who will close the festival Sunday.
Lisa Holmes, from Boulder, was there well before the music started at 1 p.m. She and her daughter, Finn O'Sullivan, set themselves up near the stage, and played cards as they waited for the music to start.
"The three headliner bands playing are my favorite bands," Holmes said. It was her first year at the festival. "I thought how lucky I am to see all these bands in a beautiful place."
Steve Harris, festival director, was busy coordinating and acting as master of ceremonies. As of Friday afternoon, all the camp sites were sold out, and the event looked to be better-attended than last year.
"The buzz and feel of it seems on track," he said.
Fifteen hundred to 2,000 people are expected each day, a significant increase from 2012, Harris said. Tickets are available through the weekend, and can be purchased at the gate.
The tent can hold 750-1,000 people, depending on how they squeeze in, said Michael Seraphin, a member of the festival's organizing committee. And there's plenty of grass space available around the tent for those who want to spread out.
New activities this year include Saturday and Sunday music workshops with some of the bands, a screening of the documentary film "Rock 'N' Roll Mamas", and late-night music shows for campers after the main stage goes dark. "I love to sit outside and listen to music. We love to dance," said Barb Ferrill Van Hoy, who has attended all five years of the festival with her daughter and husband Jeremy Van Hoy, a member of local band Edith Makes a Paper Chain. His band played at MeadowGrass last year. "It started when we had a child. It's so family-friendly, and it's not so big that you're terrified to lose them."
Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270