San Francisco

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Lineup Features Live Music, Road Closures and Traffic Congestion

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pour into San Francisco's Golden Gate Park this weekend as the 16th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival comes to the city.

The free annual concert, which will feature over 100 musical acts on seven stages, began Friday around 12 p.m. and will last through Sunday, according to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

Some of the performers gracing the stage this weekend include CAKE, Cyndi Lauper and Chris Isaak, among others. In addition to performances, there will also be 50 food vendors.

The stages will be located at Hellman Hollow, Lindley Meadow and Marx Meadow areas of the park. Recreation and parks officials expect about 750,000 people to attend. That's more than triple the number of visitors who descend upon San Francisco during the Outside Lands festival.

"That’s been the average for the past few years, so pretty much the entire population of San Francisco — and then some," said Tracey Buck, the bluegrass festival's publicist.

But music could lead to madness for those trying to get around the city this weekend, with heavy traffic and road closues guaranteed.

Many concert-goers said on Friday that they walked, biked and took public transportation to avoid traffic, and say that decision meant they felt relaxed and ready to enjoy the music when they walked through the gates.

"You better ride your bike or walk – don’t drive a car,” said San Francisco resident Ianthia Smith. “You’ll be 10 blocks that way, so this is the only way to come.”

Security will also be tight with an increased number of police and state parks officials patrolling the area.

“I live here, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been to this, but it seems pretty well organized,” said Lisa Gimbel of San Francisco. “It’s quiet.”

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival was first organized by the late Warren Hellman, whose family foundation continues to fund the festival.

"It's become the event we plan our year around and we couldn't be more thankful for everyone who helps," Hellman's eldest granddaughter Laurel Hellman said in a statement.

Just before his passing in 2011, Warren Hellman began a tradition of holding a special pre-festival event for thousands of San Francisco school children.

In keeping with that tradition, about 3,000 San Francisco middle school students were treated to a free outdoor 10:30 a.m. concert Friday morning at the park by the group Poor Man's Whiskey, recreation and park officials said.

"Providing music of this caliber for free in our beloved Golden Gate Park is an experience of a lifetime," recreation and parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. "We're extremely grateful to the late Warren Hellman and his family for their generosity in supporting San Francisco parks, and for making the arts within them a priority."

Throughout the weekend, several street closures with the park will take effect, according to recreation and park officials.

John F. Kennedy Drive will be closed between Transverse and Spreckels Lake drives, as well as between Stowe Lake Circle and 36th Avenue. John F. Kennedy Drive will also be closed between 36th Avenue and Chain of Lakes Drive.

Also, 36th Avenue will be closed between Fulton Street and John F. Kennedy Drive. 30th Avenue between Fulton Street and John F. Kennedy Drive will also be closed.

Transverse Drive will be closed between Crossover and Martin Luther King Jr. drives. Overlook Drive will also be closed between Transverse and Martin Luther King Jr. drives.

Middle Drive will also be closed between Transverse and Martin Luther King Jr. drives. Metson Drive will be closed between Middle and Martin Luther King Jr. drives.

Additionally, the parking area near the Polo Fields will be closed, according to recreation and park officials.

Paid parking will be located all three days on a first come, first serve basis at George Washington High School at 600 32nd Ave. and at Argonne Elementary School at 680 18th Ave.

Paid parking on Saturday and Sunday only will be located at Lafayette Elementary School at 4545 Anza St., Jefferson Elementary School at 1725 Irving St. and Lawton Alternative School at 1570 31st Ave., recreation and park officials said.

Organizers are encouraging concertgoers to use ride-share services or take public transportation to the festival.

Extra San Francisco Municipal Railway service will be offered starting today through Sunday, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., on Muni lines 5, 5R, 5X Fulton, 31 Balboa, 38 Geary and N Judah, according to recreation and park officials.

Taxi stands will be located on Fulton Street, from 29th to 28th avenues and between 36th and 35th avenues, as well as on Lincoln Way between Sunset Boulevard and 25th Avenue.

Drop-off and pick-up locations for ride-sharing services will be at Balboa Street and 30th Avenue, recreation and park officials said.

For more information about the event, concertgoers can visit

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