Big crowds, big problems

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Everyone remembers Woodstock, except those who were actually there. It was a watershed moment. Hundreds of thousands of young rock music fans gathered in a field in the Catskills. Nothing like it had ever happened before.

Was it a success? Well, there was a lot of dehydration, lineups for water, bad hallucinogens and wet, mucky misery. But no one was killed or seriously injured. That alone was a miracle.

The huge-mob-in-a-field concert has become a persistent trend. It’s not the best setting for good views or acoustics. And it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

But a generation after the big 1969 experiment, music fans are still in love with the al fresco love-in.

Standards, however, have changed. And no one should have to stand for water shortages or overcrowding — especially when you’ve paid a premium price to avoid it.

Last weekend’s Salmon Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor was rife with complications. Several of those who attended are outraged with the poor planning.

The number of onsite concession stands was limited, so lineups for water stretched into the hundreds. Then, around late afternoon, vendors actually ran out of the precious liquid — as temperatures exceeded

30 C.

As well, patrons who paid a hefty surplus to be in the “VIP” section were shocked to discover it had been oversold. At least two or three times as many people were crammed into the area, causing a lot of tension and even fear among some of those attending.

But the water situation was the most galling.

Like many big-ticket events, the cost of paying millions of dollars to musical superstars trickles down across the board. Caterers insist that all patrons be banned from bringing in their own supplies, forcing them to buy drinks at outrageous prices. Numerous containers of water and other beverages were confiscated and dumped at the gate.

This is understandable when it comes to alcohol. It can be justified, at least, as a mob control measure.

But water? It seems dystopian.

There’s always a risk that outdoor mega-concerts can go wrong. The crowds can get rowdy, the weather might not co-operate. The entertainment could simply flop.

But when an event like this turns into something akin to a refugee camp, organizers have truly fallen down on the job. It’s reported several people passed out and had to be carried away. It could have been a lot worse.

The solution?

There should be stricter limits — or even a ban

— on granting a monopoly to sell something so basic and essential to human life.

Geographic location: Catskills, Grand Falls-Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Pharmecuetical Priorities
    July 18, 2013 - 08:11

    The message was clear; bring all the weed and drugs you want, just don't bring in any water.

  • PaulNorthRiver
    July 18, 2013 - 07:29

    The desire to make a lot of money selling drinking water was the primary concern. The need to ensure people had an adequate supply and easy access to drinking water was forgotten. If they could sell you fresh air, they would. This is where the worship of capitalism takes us. At the very least they could have had people bringing 4 dollar bottles of water into the crowd so that folks did not have to line up, but that would have meant less profit. If the planners of this annual event keep putting profit ahead of all other concerns, sensible people should avoid it like the plague.