Summer festivals are right around the corner

The ground may still be damp with the remnants of last week's freak snowstorm, but hopefully that was just Mother Nature's idea of a sadistic joke and spring will be showing up any day now. And even though spring, with all of her lovely April showers, May flowers and pilgrims can be a grand old time, that's not the real reason I'm so dang happy to see the sun shine again. No, the really great thing about spring is that after spring comes summer, and with summer comes music festivals.

No matter where you plan on spending your summer vacation, whether backpacking through Europe, hitting the waves on the West Coast or picking your nose at home in upstate New York, chances are good that there will be some kind of music festival going on near you at some point.

It doesn't matter if you're into jazz, bluegrass or heavy metal; these days, there are plenty of options for music fans, and usually you can find all three genres at the same festival.

Also, it's not just about seeing a million of your favorite bands play amazing concerts all in the same weekend – a festival is much more than just music. With food trucks, movie theaters, art galleries, parades, clothing tents and even skate parks, a music festival can turn a giant deserted field into a vibrant city overnight.

Although tickets for some of the bigger venues like Bonnaroo and Coachella can cost $200 or more, it's quite the bargain when you think about how much music you're getting to experience for your money. There's also always the option of volunteering a few hours selling hot dogs at the food tent, working security at the gate or picking up trash to pay for your ticket.

While sleeping in a cramped tent or the backseat of mom's minivan might not be everyone's favorite way to spend their precious vacation days, for those of us willing to sacrifice the luxury of a real bed and a toilet that actually flushes for a few days, going to a music festival is the high point of the summer.

Sure, you might smell like sweat and stale beer after four days of dancing barefoot in the mud without a shower, but it's not like anybody around you is going to notice. Besides, (and this may be the dirty hippie in me talking) if you go home feeling clean and less than exhausted, then you probably didn't have as much fun as you should have.