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How Arroyo Seco Weekend infused Pasadena into its festival culture





<b>June 23, 2018</b> - Festival goers at Arroyo Seco Weekend learned a bit about the culture of Pasadena.


Richard Guzman


Pasadena Star-News


On Saturday afternoon, Sasha Wadman checked out Pasadena’s city hall, walked by plants from the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens and bought a local craft beer from a miniature Craftsman home — all adjacent to the Rose Bowl during Arroyo Seco Weekend.

Many music festivals are defined by their audience or musical genre — such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its social media-obsessed millennials or Stagecoach and its sea of country fans sporting cowboy hats. But the thread that runs through Arroyo Seco Weekend isn’t just its music and fans — it’s the city of Pasadena.

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For the 32-year-old Wadman, who lives in Brentwood, it was a nice trip through a city she frequents without leaving the festival grounds.

“Pasadena is one of those fun places to come visit and it’s nice to come out to the festival and have all that carried through here. I think it really showcases a lot of what makes this a special part of L.A.,” Wadman said.

Matt Goulding and Emily Holland check out Vroman’s Bookstore’s Little Library during Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena on Saturday, June 23, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

After a successful inaugural festival last year, promoter Goldenvoice returned to the Brookside Golf Course for another weekend of multi-generational and multi-genre music that included rock icons Neil Young, Jack White and the Pretenders and jazz from Kamasi Washington and actor Jeff Goldblum and his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra on Saturday.

The event continues Sunday with Kings of Leon, the Bangles and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, but for festival organizers Arroyo Seco offers more than just tunes — it’s a weekend of things to do for fans and families, many of whom spread out around the golf course and under trees with blankets and folding chairs.

Arroyo Seco draws inspiration in the roots of the surrounding community, from the Craftsman-style beer booths and the popular selfie spot modeled after City Hall to the inclusion of iconic area landmarks. The Huntington in San Marino and Pasadena’s Kidspace Museum, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Vroman’s Bookstores all had outposts on the grounds.

“It’s almost like this is a celebration of Pasadena,” said Crystal Williams, communication manager for Visit Pasadena as she sat in a tent near the Brew Houses handing out material to promote the city.

“Arroyo Seco Weekend brings in different elements, whether it’s the architecture of the city, the food, the music, so you come to this two-day festival and you really step into the city, you’re really immersed in it,” Williams added.

As she sat manning the Muir Ranch display of plants such as sunflowers and sage — grown by students at the garden school a mile from the festival site or donated by community members — Barrett had already recognized a few friends and neighbors walking around the grounds.

“It’s a great community event, it supports local-grown community folk,” she said.

Gilbow, a bookseller at one of the Vroman’s Bookstore booths, grew up in Pasadena and said that as a kid she spent most of her time at the bookstore before getting a job there three years ago.

Her pop-up library near the Willow stage offered books on various topics, including a few about musicians performing this weekend as well as books about the city.

“For me it’s very just like, ‘Wow, I’m home.’ I see things all around me here I saw growing up. Like I have friends whose parents worked at JPL, I have friends who live in Craftsman homes and with Vroman’s here it’s really cool to just like give a little bit of myself and my store and the community that I’m so engaged in,” Gilbow said.