Easier time to be had by all

August 15, 1991|By Eric Siegel

Fans who were mired in the mud and traffic at last Saturday's inaugural Fair Hill Country/Bluegrass Festival may, to borrow a phrase from the old Hank Snow song, find themselves "movin' on" more easily at next year's event.

Acknowledging there was "far too much" inconvenience for festival-goers, organizers say they will recommend to the festival's board that the event be moved to another portion of the state-owned Fair Hill property in Cecil County, and that expanded shuttle bus service to the site be provided.

Another recommendation will be to expand the festival from one day to three next year, according to Jody Albright, head of the Governor's Office on Art and Culture, which helped coordinate the festival, and Ed Cole, president of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners.

"My first recommendation will be that we [hold the festival] again next year," said Mr. Cole, who is on the event's board of directors. "I still think it was a success. But I think we have to begin planning immediately to come up with a better plan for dealing with the parking and traffic."

Both Ms. Albright and Mr. Cole blamed the problems on torrential rains last Friday that turned grassy parking facilities into a quagmire and contributed to a miles-long traffic backup, causing many of the more than 18,000 festival-goers to miss large portions of the entertainment.

Moving the site of the festival closer to the Cecil County Fairgrounds, which has ample asphalt parking, and allowing only shuttle buses from the lots to the site would prevent a recurrence of last weekend's problems, they said.

Although "no one got trampled," Mr. Cole said, "we need to open the site up. There wasn't room to breathe there."

He said he expected the festival to do "real well" financially, though he does not have figures now.

Ms. Albright said she would recommend that the festival, which sold out two weeks in advance, be expanded to three days as part of a "major tourist attraction approach" that would further help the economy of the rural county. A similar festival at Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland runs for three days.

Asked if she thought this year's problems would poison the well for future events, she conceded, "I don't think it's going to help." But, she added of the 18,000 patrons, "There's probably a good chance of getting a lot of them back."

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