A light drizzle and slight chill didn’t stop people from showing up in full force for the first day of San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Thousands of attendees flocked to Golden Gate Park for the free three-day event, which launched in 2001 as Strictly Bluegrass before rebranding two years later as Hardly Strictly after opening up to other genres.
This year brings more than 70 performers to six open-air stages that are expected to draw tens of thousands of festivalgoers to the green, eucalyptus-lined expanses of Hellman Hollow and Lindley and Marx meadows just east of the park’s Polo Fields.
On Friday, San Francisco resident Karie Rubin was excited to see John Craigie during the first day of the weekend-long festival.
“I’m bummed about the weather, and it almost kept me away,” she said. “But then I was like, ‘No, I gotta see my John Craigie.’”
Genevieve Krauss, who came to the festival with her friend, said she’s been to Hardly Strictly a few times.
“It’s always super magical, and I really connect with the people or bands, but it’s always random for me,” she told The Standard.
Krauss’ friend, Jessica Mericle, said she's been going to the festival since 2008.
“I love that this is free,” she said. “I am so amazed and impressed by the talent that’s come through here. I’ve seen Robert Plant, I’ve seen Patti Smith as well as, like, so many other bands I love. It’s one of my favorite things about living in San Francisco, this festival.”
People of all ages, from infants to elders, crowded around each of the stages on Friday for performances from artists such as Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Vetiver, Peter Rowan and many more.
The event continues from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, go to hardlystrictlybluerass.com.
Correction: The name of a juggler was corrected.
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