But this time around, things are different. Greg Moebius, who traveled from Ohio for the festival, staked out in front of the gates by 6 am because of the changes.
"It's a different story this year," Moebius said. "Before, you could come in at any point, lay your tarps down, get your place situated, but now with the new rules apparently they don't open until 9 o'clock."
Moebius was right. The changes met festival-goers before they were even inside. Security checkpoints, guards with dogs, safety water barriers, hydraulic plates, and three layers of monitored fencing are all new this year.
RELATED: Heading to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass? Here's your music festival forecast
The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting was a wakeup call for Bay Area event organizers. No one is immune to tragedy. Peggy Ripley gets it. She feels safe and is ready for the music.
"It's like going camping in this beautiful park and listening to great music," Ripley said.
RELATED: San Francisco increases security for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Fleet Week in wake of Gilroy shooting
"Eighty-three acts, over 6 stages, over 3 days, all in the beautiful meadow areas all around the park," Chris Porter, the festival's talent buyer, said.
The event features more than just Bluegrass.
"There's a lot of 'hardly' in it too," Porter said.
Indy Rock, Funk, Soul will be featured on the stages as well.
The Dry Branch Fire Squad kicked off the fun Friday afternoon-- they're just one of 83 acts performing this year.
Shannon McGinn has never missed a single festival.
"I've been coming for 19 years, it used to be on one stage, now much more than bluegrass. It's obviously exploded."