Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 30, 1974 · Page 121
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 121

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 30, 1974
Page 121
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Page 121 article text (OCR)

Summer and rock festivals go hand in hand. These kids Jammed Watkins Glen, N.Y., last summer, overtaxing the facilities, but at least the promoters put on a rock .concert. Some have ;ust disappeared with ticket money. LOS ANGELES, CALIf. E ver since Woodstock, which burst on the American landscape five years ago, rock festivals have become a part of the summer scene. They have also in many cases turned into bunko schemes by sharpie promoters and fly-by-night producers who know a suckers' market when they see one. This summer thousands of youthful, trusting rock fans will again become rip-off victims--enduring mammoth traffic jams, driving hundreds of miles, tolerating discomforts of every type including lack of primary toilet facilities --to watch inaudible music. According to Louis J. Lefkowitz, attorney general of New York State, "only a relatively few rock festivals have been legitimate. Most have been outright or gigantic hassles for all parties involved, especially the innocent buyer of tickets." To legitimize rock festivals, Lefkowitz, several years ago, sponsored the New York Mass Gathering Act, which called for the registration of festival promoters, the licensing of ticket sales, and the creation of a separate ticket sales trust fund to be held or covered by a bond until the festival begins :,While Lefkowitz's bill has never become law, bogging down in myriad technicalities, it did encourage several | New York communities to establish g- strict safety and health ordinances to £ control rock~festivals. : S That these so-called "festivals" need .L stringent control is evidenced by their history. In 1-970, for exampMhe Pow : . . ...... - -. by Charles Peterson der Ridge Rock Festival, a three-day jamboree, was scheduled for Middlefield, Conn. More than $500,000 was collected in advance ticket sales. Then suddenly and without reason, the festi- vaj was canceled. The promoters were nowhere to be found. Ticket-holders instantaneously were transformed into bag-holders. When promoter.Raymorid Filiberti was eventually located, arrested and tried, he was sentenced to four years in jail. But the kids didn't get their money back. Two years ago promoters came up with the Andy Town God-Peace-Love Rock Festival, to be staged in Andy Town, Fla., over fourdays: tickets, $28 each. Top-flight rock groups, listed as performers, never heard of the festival. The festival site was a swamp. Got some money back At Woodstock, N.Y., in 1969, hundreds of ticket-holders were unable to thread their way through traffic jams to use their tickets. Only with assistance from the New York attorney general's office was a $25,000 rebate collected from the promoters to reimburse the unlucky ticket-holders. Promoters of a rock festival in Wadena, Iowa, some years ago handed out worthless checks to temporary employees. Insufficient security has chronically plagued rock festivals. Several years ago one fatal stabbing took place while the Rolling Stones performed at the Altamont Festival in Northern California. At another rock gathering in Northridge, Calif., 116 injuries occurred when impatient fans stormed the gates. Four years ago, in Byron, Ga., at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, doctors pleaded for state and federal aid when the drug situation zoomed out of control. There is nothing wrong with legitimate rock festivals, and there have been some; one of the most recent was the ABC-promoted California Jam. These legitimate ones seem to provide youth with an experience which many sociologists describe as akin to a class reunion. : - Indeed, youth's fascination with rock festivals has as much to do with big crowds as joud, vibrant music - r A rock festival is seemingly a communion of the.young in which they assemble in the presence of the only personalities they currently admire-rock stars. What makes a rock festival so inviting is the wide-open, anything- goes ambience, the gathering of kindred souls who seek to cement their relationship to rock music with a living experience. Many parents believe that rock festivals are nothing more than settings for wild orgies in which kids run around naked, high on dangerous drugs. Although such activities may occasionally take, place, rock festivals generally represent a gathering of contemporaries who generate a warm sense of comradeship and togetherness. Much of the opposition to rock festivals is symbolic of the deep cultural age-bracket cleavage that exists in the United States. Former Oklahoma Gov. Dewey Bartlett, .who ordered 300 national guardsmen to dose a festival site in 1970,'rationalized his decision on moral grounds: "Maybe I'm old fashioned but I don't think that drugs, nudity, free love and lawlessness are needed to have a good time over the weekend." Other rock festival opponents argue that such affairs endanger public safety and exploit the taxpayer. Spokesmen for the Los Angeles Police Department appearing last month before a local commission on a proposed rock festival scheduled here at the Los Angeles Coliseum this weekend, argued that a festival would require 8169 man days at a cost to the city of $768,000. "We recommend strongly against granting this permit, based on police needs for such an event and our ability to supply them," declared Deputy Chief Louis Sporrer. You may not sec it, but..; Speaking to defuse parental fears of rock festivals, noted anthropologist Margaret Mead contends: "... such mass gathering does have structure, however invisible it is to the eyes of members of another generation ... " ... the responsibility," she continues, "must be in the hands of those who, as members of the whole generation group, are creating the new style as they all move together. This is the reality of a new kind of world that only a new generation can bring into being." Most of the hazards a rock festival causes can be avoided by detailed advance planning. Strict guidelines s governing a festival's duration, size, - location arid support services (medical care, sanitary facilities, security, food and beverage) should be carefully Outlined by promoters. Otherwise, no festival should be permitted: One slip can mar an entire festival. H*lf a million extra Watkins Glen is a case in point , Promoters Shelly Firikel and Jim Koplik secured 1000 Pbrt-Q-Sari toilets, 200 acres of parking, 36 mounted policemen, 3 helicopters, $30,000 worth of cyclone fence, 135 Drug Abuse Control officials, food .for 150,000 and 100,000 gallons of water, but key roadblocks 20 miles outside the festival village, designed to reject non-ticket- holders, never were erected. To the dismay of the promoters, 500,000 un^ wanted observers arrived,- taxing support services beyond capacity. With five summers of .rock festivals behind them, promoters by now should have enough experience to plan their jamborees-with care and foresight^ taking into account all possible consingen- cies. No one minds kids having a good time, albeit frequently at exorbitant prices. But surely they have no right to despoil the community which harbors thenuor to make the community pay for their excesses/and aftermath.

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