You might have a few years before sleep-away camp is a summertime reality for your kids, but it’s never too early to expose them to the joy of unplugging and heading to the woods for a weekend. The friendly folks of Hike It Baby bring a nature-loving festival to Oregon that’s dedicated to families with small children. Music and picnics and hiking abound! Read on for all the fun-filled details.

The Scoop

Family Forest Fest is a two-night, three-day festival being offered in three locations this summer after last year’s successful trial run near Portland. Hike it Baby founder Shanti Hodges had a goal to create an event that would encourage families with young children (ages 0-10 years) to go camping by providing a supportive environment with like-minded folks to share the experience with. As an added incentive, the event would have a festival atmosphere with music and other entertainment alongside the hiking and campfire activities that one might expect from a tent-camping adventure.

Sleeping Under the Stars

This year’s festival location is at Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea, Oregon. Most festival-goers will camp in tents, so plan to bring all the gear you would typically bring for a night at a traditional campsite, even though the farm venue will be a bit different from the individual sites you’re used to reserving. Check out the packing list on the event website for the recommended supplies to bring, or if you would rather have someone else take care of that step, take advantage of the VIP package ($250 in addition to your festival tickets), which provides the rental and set-up of all your main gear, including tents, sleeping bags, camp kitchen, cooler, ice and water. Prefer to camp in your RV? There are limited RV spaces available, which can be reserved when your festival tickets are purchased.

Let’s Eat

While the festival will have a community feel, you will need to plan your own meals. There will be a potluck on Friday evening for those who are arriving on the first day, so bring a dish if you’d like to partake. Otherwise, pack the cooler and do a bit of meal planning to make sure your hungry hikers will be fueled. There may be food trucks throughout the weekend as a special treat, but their arrival and food quantity is not guaranteed so you won’t want to rely on them for meals. We recommend simple, easy-to-assemble meals and grab-and-go snacks if this is your first rodeo (think hot dogs that can be roasted on a stick or pre-made sandwiches in the cooler).

That’s Entertainment

You will want to bring games of your own for the kids to pull out, but the festival might just keep you busy enough that downtime is scarce. Scheduled activities range from story time and a teddy bear hunt to family yoga and farm tours during the day, while nighttime events include movies under the stars, campfire sing-alongs and a glow-stick night walk. Throughout the day when there aren’t scheduled activities, the kids will keep busy exploring the nature play area, getting wet in the splash zone or trying their luck at throwing horseshoes. The must-not-miss event of the weekend will be when Portland’s own Red Yarn takes the stage. You’ll want to lay your blankets out early so you don’t miss a moment of their deep woods country jam!

Parent Perks

The festival folks are parents too, so they know you’ll need a break to recharge. Drop-in childcare will be available and you can even schedule a massage during your time off (yes, really!). Classes for parents will also be offered, including knot tying, fire-building with little ones and backpacking basics. Local sponsors will set up booths in the festival so you can check out the latest in hiking backpacks, baby carriers, outdoor gear and more.

The Details

September 8-10, 2017
Alsea, Or.

Pricing: $125 per adult (earlybird rate available until maximum number is reached)
$145 per adult (regular price)
$10 per child (7-17 years)
6 and under attend for free

VIP package: $250 per family in addition to registration fees

Online: familyforestfest.com

Will your family be hitting a festival this summer? Let us know in the comments section!

—Marianne Walters

All photos courtesy of Hike It Baby and the Family Forest Fest.