Parking lot Parrotheads all birds of a feather

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Troy and a friend, both of Farmington grill up shrimp on the barbie for the full Parrothead experience. (Lebanon Voice/Harrison Thorp photos)

ROCHESTER - There was plenty of laughter, camaraderie, Jimmy Buffett music, smell of shrimp beginning to boil and frozen concoctions at Saturday's New England Parrothead festival.

And that was just in the parking lot.

"Once you go in the gate you can't come back out," giggled Jen Gibbs of Rochester as she sipped on a cool beverage from a plastic cup. "We told them we'd have to go in occasionally to use the restrooms, so they brought out a few," she added pointing to a neat row of four port-a-pottys nearby.

Gibbs, who was at the all-things Jimmy Buffett festival with her boyfriend, Jeff Sprague, admitted she was a bit of a novice Buffett aficionado.

Jen Gibbs and Jeff Sprague, both of Rochester, at Saturday's Parrothead Festival of New England at Tri-City Arena in Rochester. He's a lifelong Parrothead. She admits she's "dabbling."

"I'm dabbling," she said.

Sprague, however, said he was born a Parrothead.

"I'm 44 years old, and I've been a fan for 44 years," he laughed.

Asked what it took to be a Parrothead, he said without hesitation, "Enjoy. Enjoy yourself. Right now I'm thinking about the beach, tiki bars and the people you meet."

Tailgating before a Parrothead event is of paramount concern, and down a few cars from Sprague and Gibbs, Troy and his friend, both from Farmington, were grilling up enough shrimp to make any Key West Conch (native) proud.

"It's all about 'attitude," Troy said when asked what it took to be a Parrothead as he turned skewered shrimp. "Attitude and latitude."

CHANGES IN LATITUDE - Robin Wright, of Club Finz parrothead club of Portsmouth, takes a turn on a mechanical bull set up inside the Tri-City Arena for this weekend's Parrothead Festival. But she doesn't last too long before getting tossed to a soft landing, afterwards quickly getting up and telling friends she was fine.

By midafternoon Jimmy Buffett fans and Parrotheads were beginning to trickle into Tri-City Arena from the parking lot, among them Mark Holloway, Elaine Lentz and Robin Wright of Portsmouth's Club Finz, a Seacoast-area Parrothead Club.

Cloudy skies threatened festivalgoers a couple of times, but the rain held off and a pleasant breeze made for perfect Jimmy Buffett weather, not necessarily for the beach, more for a blender.

The Parrot Head Festival of New England continues today at Tri-City Arena (Rochester Fairgounds) with more bands, beverages and all-things Buffett.

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