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The Teal Panda Fest: Twelve bands rock Sweetwater Ranch in Jamul

The first music festival in the San Diego region since the pandemic started is about to go down

Verigolds aims to get you feeling festive again.
Verigolds aims to get you feeling festive again.

Even though it won’t reach attendance levels that put it in competition with the likes of Wonderfront and Kaaboo, the first music festival in the San Diego region since the pandemic started is about to go down. The Teal Panda Fest (TPF) will be a three-day music, art and camping event held approximately 40 minutes to the east of, and some 3000 ft above, downtown San Diego: at the Sweetwater Ranch in Jamul.

Past Event

Teal Panda Fest

This is the first year for the fest, but organizer Darren Goldberg has prior experience — he ran the Gem State Jam in Idaho for three consecutive years starting in 2009. He is modeling the TPF after another event that centers on camping and music: The Joshua Tree Music Festival. “It has a similar vibe to what we are going for,” he explains. “It’s a smaller festival. I’ve always been drawn to smaller festivals, rather than 100,000-person things.

GrooveSession will play the Teal Panda Fest on Friday, June 11.

Something with more of a boutique type of experience. It’s Friday through Sunday, and we’re only doing music on Friday and Saturday. Joshua Tree would do music on Sunday as well, but we’re just doing the music on the two days, and Sunday is kind of your day to go home and collect yourself.”

It may seem hard to believe, but Goldberg began booking bands for the TPF after he secured the venue back in January — when the prospects for any sort of live music this spring or summer still seemed bleak, and the possibility of an actual festival seemed downright outlandish. He pitched the bands the dates he was shooting for, leveled with them that “things are ever-changing right now,” stressed that the event might need to be rescheduled, and made sure they were okay with that. He focused on San Diego and Los Angeles bands that could play the festival as a one-off, without having to schedule other tour dates around the trip. “It was that flexibility that was definitely in my mind,” Goldberg says. “Even if it is only this show, they will still be able to come down and walk away with a paycheck and get to do what they do, but also not stress about booking any other dates around it.”

Twelve bands (including The Main Squeeze, Triptides, The Verigolds and the Shakedown String Band) will be part of the eclectic line-up. There will also be DJs and an array of live art options, ranging from collaborative live-art experiences by professional artists to installations that give festival patrons the ability to paint part of a mural or large wall.

The Sweetwater Ranch comes equipped with plenty of well water to keep concertgoers hydrated, and bathrooms with showers to keep them clean as well. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks, but there will be some food trucks present. Goldberg capped the event at a 250 people, with the hope that all who attend walk away happy.

“You could have a concert with a couple of thousand people in there,” Goldberg says, “but considering camping and everything else, that 250 mark felt comfortable for us — both health-wise and venue and infrastructure-wise. I’m big on having the satisfaction of people walking away from the festival. You could have something that looks like a success, and there’s all these people in there, but the bathrooms weren’t set up right or they didn’t have a good time for one reason or another. My focus is everyone walking away saying, ‘That was an amazing event. I’m putting it on my calendar for next year.’”

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Verigolds aims to get you feeling festive again.
Verigolds aims to get you feeling festive again.

Even though it won’t reach attendance levels that put it in competition with the likes of Wonderfront and Kaaboo, the first music festival in the San Diego region since the pandemic started is about to go down. The Teal Panda Fest (TPF) will be a three-day music, art and camping event held approximately 40 minutes to the east of, and some 3000 ft above, downtown San Diego: at the Sweetwater Ranch in Jamul.

Past Event

Teal Panda Fest

This is the first year for the fest, but organizer Darren Goldberg has prior experience — he ran the Gem State Jam in Idaho for three consecutive years starting in 2009. He is modeling the TPF after another event that centers on camping and music: The Joshua Tree Music Festival. “It has a similar vibe to what we are going for,” he explains. “It’s a smaller festival. I’ve always been drawn to smaller festivals, rather than 100,000-person things.

GrooveSession will play the Teal Panda Fest on Friday, June 11.

Something with more of a boutique type of experience. It’s Friday through Sunday, and we’re only doing music on Friday and Saturday. Joshua Tree would do music on Sunday as well, but we’re just doing the music on the two days, and Sunday is kind of your day to go home and collect yourself.”

It may seem hard to believe, but Goldberg began booking bands for the TPF after he secured the venue back in January — when the prospects for any sort of live music this spring or summer still seemed bleak, and the possibility of an actual festival seemed downright outlandish. He pitched the bands the dates he was shooting for, leveled with them that “things are ever-changing right now,” stressed that the event might need to be rescheduled, and made sure they were okay with that. He focused on San Diego and Los Angeles bands that could play the festival as a one-off, without having to schedule other tour dates around the trip. “It was that flexibility that was definitely in my mind,” Goldberg says. “Even if it is only this show, they will still be able to come down and walk away with a paycheck and get to do what they do, but also not stress about booking any other dates around it.”

Twelve bands (including The Main Squeeze, Triptides, The Verigolds and the Shakedown String Band) will be part of the eclectic line-up. There will also be DJs and an array of live art options, ranging from collaborative live-art experiences by professional artists to installations that give festival patrons the ability to paint part of a mural or large wall.

The Sweetwater Ranch comes equipped with plenty of well water to keep concertgoers hydrated, and bathrooms with showers to keep them clean as well. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks, but there will be some food trucks present. Goldberg capped the event at a 250 people, with the hope that all who attend walk away happy.

“You could have a concert with a couple of thousand people in there,” Goldberg says, “but considering camping and everything else, that 250 mark felt comfortable for us — both health-wise and venue and infrastructure-wise. I’m big on having the satisfaction of people walking away from the festival. You could have something that looks like a success, and there’s all these people in there, but the bathrooms weren’t set up right or they didn’t have a good time for one reason or another. My focus is everyone walking away saying, ‘That was an amazing event. I’m putting it on my calendar for next year.’”

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