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How I Conquered The National Cornbread Festival

by Aaron Tanner

· Event,Sensory,Preparedness

I do not know what the weather was like this past weekend in your area, but it was perfect here in north Alabama. Not only did I get outside this past weekend, but if you recall my last post, I got outside the weekend before last and went to the National Cornbread Festival west of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Today I will be sharing what steps I took to prepare myself for the event in order to have success in handling myself with confidence and how you can do the same for any situation that could potentially be sensory stimulating.

The first thing I did was research the festival by reading the event’s Facebook page and website and watched Youtube videos of the National Cornbread Festival to get an idea of what to expect. For example, to prevent feeling overwhelmed, I researched the different activities vendors and exhibitors to visit so I could make a list of the top things I wanted to see. In my case, the top 3 things I desired to try was the sampling of cornbread in Cornbread Alley, going on a tour of the historical homes and another tour of the Lodge Manufacturing Plant. Having a game plan for any big event allows one to be organized and reduces the chances of one’s brain getting overloaded.

Another area where research really helped was identifying areas I could go in case I did get sensory overload. Fortunately, the festival featured an air conditioned bus for the tour of historical homes to where I could sit down and cool off and a theater where one could rest, regroup and listen to songwriters from Nashville that play calming, acoustic music. Although I am glad that more places and events are adding sensory friendly areas, those with Aspergers need to understand that not every place is going to have a calming room. When faced with that particular situation, one either needs to figure out their ability handle said place or event and plan ahead or simply avoid that particular setting.

Getting a good night’s sleep goes a long way towards handling potentially sensory stimulating settings. I knew there was nothing to be nervous about because there was no set schedule and I would get to the festival when I got there. As a result, I was able to get up early and get to the Cornbread Festival at a decent time. One aspect of the festival I give the event organizers kudos for is allowing those who paid admission to get their hand stamped and come back at a later time the same day if need be. This is important if you are dealing with someone that tire easily, such as small children, and allow them to de-stress or even take a nap and come back later.

If reading my posts makes you want to go to South Pittsburg, Tennessee the last weekend in April in 2018 for the festival, be prepared when stepping into the Lodge Manufacturing Plant that it can be loud. Fortunately, I remembered to bring earplugs and I used them inside the factory. That particular item helps reduce noise and can lessen the chance sensory overload. This is vital if going to a music festival.

Those are the tips on how I conquered the National Cornbread Festival and how one can use the same techniques to handle a big place or event. Even if one does not have Aspergers, these steps can go a long way to having a good time despite big crowds. I am curious to hear your advice on handling big events or crowds. Leave your comments in the section below and subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail address.

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