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Dear Craig: The Best Ways to Flirt at a Summer Festival

With games, food, and friends all together under the summer sky, it's no wonder that the summer festival is an opportune moment where many have expressed (or attempted to express) their affections for that special person.

Think about this environment: a community summer festival brings together a critical mass of peers. Friends you only see a couple of times per year gather specifically on this weekend. Besides your obligatory volunteer shifts, the day is yours to eat, play… and flirt. With these footloose and fancy-free characteristics, it's no wonder that the summer festival is an opportune moment where many have expressed (or attempted to express) their affections for that special person.

This being the "Summer of Love" issue, I asked our reader base to send me their tried-and-true summer festival flirting tactics. In a "Dear Abby" column style, let's take a look at what our friends had to say.

*Note: I’ve, of course, changed most of the names in this article… with names of the characters from my favorite movie: "Mean Girls."

Question: In your youth, what was your favorite technique to flirt with that special person at your local summer festival? 

Boba Bazooka

“One of my favorite past times was purchasing a large milk tea with tapioca and using the extra large straw as a spit cannon to launch boba balls at my crush. Every now and then, one of them would become attached to their clothes for the rest of the festival. I always enjoyed when that happened. It was my little way of knowing that I gave them something that really 'stuck' with them.”


Juy 7, 2020

Cute reflection Regina. Cherish those memories tight because chances are, even post-pandemic, the unsanitary qualities of projecting bacteria covered adhesive balls probably makes this flirting practice one that won’t stick (pun, of course, intended).

Coupons for Love

"As teenagers we're all on a limited budget based on the generosity of our parents. After milking my mom and dad for food money (separately of course) I would make sure to get that food/beverage dollar off coupon right by dancing right before intermission and then share a shaved ice with my crush."


Juy 7, 2020

Shave ice was always a double edged sword for me. This refreshing summer treat was a great way to bond with a friend… until you realize that your entire mouth is red and the permanent syrup stain showing prominently on your white shirt will now be a scarlet letter of shame which you'll carry with you for the rest of the afternoon & evening.

Take the Last Shot

“Picture this: there are rows of glass jars, each with a goldfish inside; you just need to score one ball to win a goldfish. You’ve missed all your shots (on purpose), but you have that one last ping-pong ball, so you give it to the cutie standing next to you. They score it! They win a goldfish, and you win their heart.”


Juy 7, 2020

… And then the goldfish gets head trauma from all the shaking of the bag through the evening and subsequently dies in the following days… Did anyone else ever think the goldfish games at these carnivals were just cruel and unusual punishment for baby goldfish??

Attraction Through Association

"Understanding that community relationships are heavily influenced by family, I would try to get their attention by building close relationships with their parents and siblings to indirectly demonstrate my familial compatibility. My hope was that either my crush would develop attraction through observation, or one of the parents would plant the seed for me with the good 'ol 'have you ever thought about dating…' question."


Juy 7, 2020

Oh boy, you are bringing me back to yesteryear Damian. Being too shy myself to express my affection directly, I too utilized this tactic for several years. Now, while I did end up with many dates... those dates were all with individuals aged 60+, listening to smooth jazz by Keiko Matsui and Hiroshima in concert. Silver lining? This playlist.

Young and Shy...

“Unfortunately, during my teenage years I was a bit more on the nerdy side, didn’t really know how to dress, and generally reluctant to talk with new people, so I never took the initiative to talk to people I was attracted to.”


Juy 7, 2020

Thanks for the honest perspective Clark. Here’s the good news, you never want to “peak” in your formative years, and many individuals who find themselves in similar shoes end up growing up with quite the personality, and ability to “pull.” So, fast forward 10 years later, I’m sure you have candidates lining up to date you now. Actually… wait a minute, I know you, you don’t. Keep at it big guy, your day will come.

Coworking Space

“Easy question. If my crush was part of the same church organization, just sneak a peek at what shift they sign up for and sign up for the same shift. Bam! Guaranteed three hour hang out time with yours truly.” 


Juy 7, 2020

Holy cow Gretchen. Your shifts were three hours long?!

Dancing Fool

"An opportunity uniquely associated with Obon was the ability for me to dance with my crush. Neither of you know 100% of the songs, so you go back and forth about the ones that you're good and bad at. I always appreciated the vulnerability expressed from both parties during this experience.”


Juy 7, 2020

That’s the spirit Cady! There's a saying associated with Obon that says, "the people dancing are fools, the people watching are fools, so let's just all be fools and dance together."

Dancing School

“Growing up, I was lucky enough to live in an area that had multiple obons during the summer, and my local festival was the last one of the season. So I would use all of the non-local obons to practice all of the dances so by the time mine rolled around, I was a bonafide expert.” 


Juy 7, 2020

A tactic used by both kids, and adults (like me) alike.

...And on one final note, I received a note from a reader describing how her favorite moments were those spent sharing a meal on the steps watching the sun set and the people go by. It was those times, with no frills, no tactics, and no gimmicks that the real relationships were built and even better, the real memories.. 

I believe that is the spirit of our festivals. We bring community together, we laugh, we play, we eat, and we, well, flirt. The outcome of all of these experiences? Institutional memory. When we reflect on these experiences, we smirk or shake our heads embarrassingly in reflection. But regardless if we got the date or not (in most cases not), these reflections form the foundation of our identity, and more importantly our desire to see similar memories created for ourselves and our progeny. 

Thank you summer festival flirtation, may you live long and prosper.

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Article featured in this issue:
Summer of Love
July 10, 2020

Maybe it's the reprieve from classes and schoolwork that gives us the head space to explore our feelings. Maybe it's the long days and warm nights that energize and invigorate the soul. This issue explores the many angles of love in celebration of the magic that's created in this special season.

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Dear Craig: The Best Ways to Flirt at a Summer Festival

With games, food, and friends all together under the summer sky, it's no wonder that the summer festival is an opportune moment where many have expressed (or attempted to express) their affections for that special person.


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