Well, it's that time of year again. The time of year where we're reminded of what we love the most. The time of year to come together with friends and loved ones and celebrate. The time where we get all kinds of cool stuff. Yes, it's Redsfest.
When I originally had the idea for this article, I was surprised that we hadn't done it sooner here at RR. I mean, who's more qualified in Reds-related good times than we are? What we've decided to do is a "do's and don'ts" format list to help you get the most out of your Redsfest experience. Being one of the RRs most familiar with the area, FordhamRam is providing the suggestions of stuff to do downtown, while Redsfest veterans 'tHan, obc/Ewok, and myself want to make sure you have a great time and avoid rookie Redsfest mistakes.
Make sure you're up with the Reds social networking sites. Now, more than ever, because they've announced that they'll be announcing where players are signing on their twitter feed (@Reds). If you can keep up with it throughout the day, you're likely to get to autograph lines faster, which is especially important since they're introducing a cap of 225 autographs per session this year. (BK)
Overpay for parking. If you’re from out of town or a serial suburbanite, parking downtown near the Duke Convention Center may appear a bit intimidating. This does not have to be the case. Metered parking can be found downtown until 6 PM on Friday and Saturday (and after 6 PM, it’s free). Many of these meters give you the opportunity to pay by credit card. If parking garages are more your thing, your best bet for a deal will involve a bit of a walk. Parking for as low as a $1.00 an hour may be had at the Garfield Garage (Enter from Ninth between Vine and Race Streets)
or the Gramercy Garage (Enter from Seventh between Elm & Race Streets) on Friday. If you’re willing to pay a bit of a premium, you can find closer parking to Duke at Fountain Square or one of the privately-owned lots, but prepare to pay a premium. Obviously, parking will likely be cheaper and more plentiful on Saturday. (FordhamRam) ('tHan mentions carpooling if you're able to, which I think is a good idea)
More after the jump...
Get there early enough to develop your personal Redsfest strategy. Some folks like to hit the autograph booths and others like to listen to the ballplayers interviewed on the main stage. Some like to wander from booth to booth and others bring children (who get bored easily and rapidly). Some like to wait to meet the authors releasing and autographing Reds related books in the HOF area (short lines!) and others like to drank it up in the Sports Bar while watching the MAC Championship game Friday night. Some former Reds players will be signing, for a fee, in their own personal booths. The two that I recall are George Foster (helluva nice man) and Eric Davis (who won’t commit to liking USC or UCLA more than the other). (obc)
Buy anything until the end of the last day when all the game used stuff is extremely discounted. ('tHan) (BK's note: I can't agree with this more.)
Try something new for lunch or dinner downtown. If the on-site foods aren’t striking your fancy, there are several good fast casual places within walking distance of the Duke Center.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, It’s Just Crepes is only a block away at the corner of 4th and Elm. Their savory and sweet crepes can make a solid lunch or snack for under $7. Open Monday & Saturday 9-5
If delis are more your sort of thing, Caffe Barista is on 4th and Plum Street (2 blocks away from the Duke Convention Center. At Caffe Barista, you can pick up a quality sandwich or a bottle of wine to brown-bag it during Bronson Arroyo’s music set. Hours: Friday - 7 AM to 7 PM, Saturday - 8 AM to 3 PM
If you’re looking for more of an upscale dinner, one block north of the Convention Center is Sung Korean Bistro. It’s a bit pricy (expect about $15-$18 an entrée), but the Bibimbab is some of the best in the city. They open for dinner after 4:30.
Got a taste for Italian? A block south of the west end of the Convention Center is Campanello’s. It’s only three blocks from the beach! (seriously, that’s what the sign says). Their hours on Friday and Saturday are 5:30pm to 10:30pm.
Two blocks east of the Redsfest is the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, Fountain Square. There, you’ll have a few choices for food. On Friday, McCormick and Schmick’s has a cheap happy hour menu when ordering from the bar. Rock Bottom Brewery has your standard bar/pub food with some quality in-house brews. If you’re from out of town and must try the Cincinnati-thing, you’ll can find a Skyline on the Square as well as a Graeter’s. Also, be on the lookout for some of Cincinnati’s newest food-trend: the foodtrucks. Two that you probably should try are New Orleans to Go and Café De Wheels.
If your flask is confiscated by security and you're looking for a drink, try Mainstay Rock Bar on 5th Street alongside the Convention Center. They have a standard selection of drinks and will likely be lousy/awesome with folks coming and going from the GnR concert on Friday. Lunar Bar can be found on 4th and Elm Street. It’s more of a high-class place that coincidentally neighbors the Hustler Store. (FordhamRam)
(BK's note: The veterans all listed this as an important thing to remember. The food at Redsfest is unspectacular and overpriced. In past Redsfests, there have been places with concession stand-like food, LaRosa's, and Skyline, and all of it is too expensive. If you're able to, eat somewhere else.)
Be in such a hurry. It’s a leisurely mosey around the event, especially if they haven’t fixed the gridlock foot traffic issue. (obc)
Check out the indoor field. There's always stuff going on there, and makes for decent entertainment if you're in between waiting for people to sign. In the past, we've watched some kind of home run derby thing featuring Reds minor leaguers, which I enjoyed. This year, they'll also have the finals of the Reds Wiffle Classic, which as most of you know featured a team representing Red Reporter. Since this is the semifinals and finals of this tournament, I'll let you guess if the RR team will be playing on Saturday. (The answer: Not unless 23 other teams drop out at the last minute, but we're ready for a RR vs. OMGreds matchup if they do.) (BK) ('tHan mentions this too)
Go to the WLW booth just to tell Mo Egger how much you like Bruce Springsteen, Funnel Fries and Five Finger Death Punch…and that you know the FSO Stats Guy. Be yourself. Go check in with Ken Broo, he’s much taller and a graduate of the finest school in all the land! Plus, Ken is really good people. (obc)
Sit with me at the bar at 3:00 on Saturday to watch the UK/UNC game. ('tHan)
Heckle 'tHan if UNC beats UK. ('tHan)
Heckle 'tHan if UNC beats UK. (BK)
Listen to Bronson Arroyo play Goo Goo Dolls songs for 45 minutes. (BK)
Remember that Cincinnati is a city. It’s neither as safe nor as dangerous as what you hear from its advocates and detractors. If you make intelligent decisions, you likely won't face any problems. This means locking your car doors, keeping your valuables out of sight, and avoiding proposition bets with former player-managers. (FordhamRam)
Hesitate to meet up with your fellow Red Reporters at Redsfest. We're an awesome and welcoming crew.
See you there!