There's only one place that I know of where you can dress your infant in a tie-dyed onesie and get away with it.

That place would be the Walnut Valley Festival, better known as the Bluegrass Festival, or more simply known as just Winfield or Bluegrass.

Maybe I'm partial to this festival and this town because I went to school there, but I had a great time at this year's festival. I only went for one day, on Saturday, and when I pulled my car up to the fairgrounds, the parking attendant told me, "Go in there and have too much fun."

I told him that I would try.

Bluegrass is a huge festival, and if you don't go for the music, you should definitely go just for the people watching.

The festival draws what might be the most interesting group of people ever to share the same space for a few days. As I told my parents when I got back into town, I saw beads, tattoos and piercings in places I didn't know the three could exist on a person's body.

Of course there are also retired couples, young families, and just about every other person you can imagine at the fairgrounds in Winfield every third weekend in September.

A couple probably in their 60s sat in front of me at stage two, my favorite stage where people relax and lay down on a grassy hill overlooking the stage. The couple wore matching T-shirts from a bluegrass festival in Telluride, Colo. Several friends broke down the artists that were listed on the back of their shirts.

One was the best artist, one friend declared. Another said she liked a few others.

Their banter was amusing to me. We could have started a conversation about almost every person that we saw at the festival.

During another performance, a young family stood at the south end of the grandstands. Soon, their two young children, a girl and a boy, started to dance. Mom and Dad joined them, and my friends and I watched as the parents flung their children into the air and spun them around in circles.

Despite the loud music, I could almost hear the children's laughter.

Regardless of where the festival-goers came from, or what they do for a living, they all attend Bluegrass to take in the music, soak in the sun, and meet up with friends.

And that's exactly what I did for one afternoon and evening last weekend. I smiled as my friends' hair blew in the wind, their feet and heads tapping to the sound of banjos, fiddles, and acoustic guitars.

For one weekend, thousands of people didn't mind tie-dyed shirts, skirts, hair pieces and babies, or mind that there were thousands of other people sharing the same space and music. We were just people who loved music.

Other than getting to see some friends I haven't seen in a while, the most important reason I went to Bluegrass was because I'm a huge fan of John McCutcheon. I saw him twice on Saturday, and I wasn't disappointed.

The 7 to 7:40 a.m. time slot on my weekday mornings in Garden City usually is spent getting ready while listening to some of my favorite songs of his: "Soup," "Last First Kiss," "Time Has Made a Change In Me," and "Thanksgiving Day," to name a few (I'm always open for suggestions for other songs of his, of course).

His ending song on Saturday night, a whimsical song that followed the beat of "Hotel California," was one of my favorites ("Welcome to the festival at Winfield. Such a lovely place," he sang).

One line, especially, I smiled and laughed at: "You'll go back to your dreary life, but you'll be back next year."

Indeed, John, I probably will.

Staff writer Monica Springer can be e-mailed at