Last summer I wrote about how my greatest regret, besides seeing the people I loved, was the cancellation of Summerfest, an outdoors series of music played by the North Carolina Symphony in the Koka Booth Amphitheater. That has been my favorite summer tradition for years and years, and while I realized that it was necessary to cancel it, that was one of my greatest losses of that season, if not of that year.
I’m so excited to say that on Saturday night, we went to the first concert of a 2021 Summerfest season! That is not to say that things were “back to normal.” The season is shorter; only four Saturdays in June (although they added another show one Friday). We have to sign up for a specific pod that can only hold four people. We are supposed to bring in food and drink in small transparent containers.
But the basics––music enjoyed under the stars outdoors while eating our own snacks and drinking our own wine or other beverages––were BACK!
At first, my son was reluctant to return. He wasn’t concerned about safety, but he thought the “vibe” would be off. Still, we returned with the other family we’ve been going with for over a decade. And guess what? It was FABULOUS!
We had our assigned spots in our pod, which was physically distanced from others;
We could still bring in food and drink, so our main dish was Peruvian Chicken Salad Wraps that I made. Thursday night, I had roasted a chicken with Peruvian spices that I served with baked Yuca and a spicy Peruvian green sauce comprised mostly of jalapeños and cilantro that we love, although I’m not a huge cilantro fan;
That morning at the Cary Downtown Farmers Market, I bought some lovely Romaine lettuce and Jacinato kale (also known as Dino kale because the dark, knobby texture looks like what we think of as being dinosaur skin) from Parker Farm, along with some beautiful onions from Meadowhawk Farm:
When added to bits of the chicken and the Peruvian sauce, it looked like this:
Which I wrapped up in Trader Joe’s Chipotle Lime Tortillas, which made a wonderful picnic dinner.
My son was right; the vibe wasn’t exactly the same. In particular, Summerfest has been a wonderful way to introduce young children to classical music in a venue where they also had the ability to move around and eat and drink. However, I noticed that almost none of us in our pods had young children. I totally understand that, but I do think it is a loss. But I would not want to be a parent trying to keep young children to stay within our pod, which was fairly small for four adults. Still, the vibe was pretty darn good.
It helped that the weather was glorious. Since we already had an assigned space, we didn’t have to get there as soon as the doors opened, so we arrived later than we had in former years. By the time we got there, the sun was going down. So we spent the evening in pleasant 70 degree weather with no direct sun, no bugs, and pretty low humidity. And since this was the first of the Summerfest concerts, there was just such an air of excitement among the audience as well as among the performers.
It was not “back to normal,” but it was close. I’m just so grateful that we can resume at least a modified version of my favorite summer tradition.