By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The admission to Tall Stacks may be the bargain of the year - $12 for a five-day admission pin at Kroger stores, $10 with a Kroger Plus card, $15 at the gate. It's the food, drinks and souvenirs that can break the family bank. Beer and funnel cakes for $5 and $35 sweatshirts add up quickly.
"I never have strategies anymore, 'cause now we have kids," says Christy Sendelbach, 30, of Melbourne. She and her husband, Wade, 37, brought their sons Chris, 9, and Matt, 8, to the Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival.
The boys are under 12, so only the parents had to pay admission ($20 with their Kroger Plus card). Parking was free. "We got lucky," says Christy. "We parked over in Newport and found a free space," adds Wade.
Parking can be a major expense, with downtown lots charging $15 on Wednesday. Prices may get even higher this weekend, and you can bet those rare free spots will be even harder to come by.
Chris and Carolyn Yeazel of Pleasant Ridge also got a parking bargain. Because their kids, Margot, 3, and Chris, 19 months, are so young, they were planning to stay only a few hours. "We were blessed to find a meter, so it was just $2 to park," says Carolyn.
They also saved money on food, packing milk and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches for the children. You're not allowed to bring food into Tall Stacks, says Carolyn, "But because we have kids, they let us bring snacks. And nobody here is selling PB&J."
The Sendelbach boys weren't as easily satisfied.
"They're hollering for hot dogs and funnel cakes," says Christy.
Within a couple of hours, the Sendelbachs had bought a $2.50 hot dog for Matt, a $5 powdered-sugar funnel cake for Chris and a $3 20 oz. bottle of Mountain Dew for Wade. But Christy figures they still got off cheap. "They're not big askers," she says of her kids.
But Chris and Matt did want souvenirs. So Mom and Dad got them each a Tall Stacks visor ($26 for the pair) and two decks of Tall Stacks playing cards ($2 each).
The total for the Sendelbachs' three-hour cruise through Tall Stacks was $60.50 (admission pins are good for all five days).
Wade and Christy both wanted to see Creedence Clearwater Revisited close Wednesday night's show, so the family was planning to stay around all day. Wade was also hoping to come back Friday for Los Lobos.
"We also want to try and come back during the weekend," adds Christy.
For the younger Sendelbachs the best thing about Tall Stacks was obvious. "The boats!" says Matt emphatically. "I liked the music on the boats," adds Chris. "I liked that one instrument that kept on making smoke when it was playing (the calliope)."
The good news for mom and dad is that, like that steam-powered calliope, some of the best things at Tall Stacks are free.
"I just like to see the excitement on their faces," says Christy.
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