In a few days, thousands of people will descend upon Saugerties to take part in The Hudson Project music festival at Winston Farm.
And while those thousands of people are expected to stay on site several days, local officials and the festival promoter said the disruptions to the surrounding community should be kept to a minimum. In fact, they have repeatedly said the number of concert attendees is equivalent to the number of visitors the annual Garlic Festival attracts each of the days it is in operation.
“This is a big event for Saugerties and may include 20,000 festival goers, including those camping on site for three days and those attending on a daily basis,” town Supervisor Gregory Helsmoortel said in a statement. “The town of Saugerties and Ulster County have been working with MCP Presents, the Colorado promoters, for several months to ensure a smooth and safe concert for those attending and for the community as a whole.”
Jonathan Fordin, president of MCP Presents, said the festival, which takes place July 11-13, is expected to draw 20,000 fans each day. He said there is a traffic plan in place that will be relayed to attendees in advance.
“We are directing everyone to routes which will avoid the high traffic areas in town and our goal is to limit the effect on the local communities by dispersing arriving traffic on different routes and allowing most of the traffic to arrive overnight when there are fewer commuters on the roads,” Fordin said in a statement, adding that they have worked for months with state police, Saugerties police, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, state Department of Transportation and the state Thruway Authority to minimize the impact on the community as much as possible. As with any large-scale event, there will be increased traffic in the area, particularly on state Route 212 eastbound approaching state Route 32 and on Route 32 southbound approaching Exit 20 of the Thruway, Fordin said.
The high-traffic periods will be late afternoon and overnight on Thursday, midday on Friday and Monday morning and local residents and commuters should avoid the Route 212 and Route 32 area during the high traffic periods if possible or plan for extra travel time, Fordin said.
MCP Presents has said The Hudson Project will feature more than 85 musical acts performing on four stages. In addition to the music, the festival will have an art village and Hudson Valley-based foods and drinks. There will also be a variety of workshops, including yoga and Shaolin Kung Fu.
Performers at the festival will include Kendrick Lamar, Bassnectar, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, STS9, Big Gigantic, Excision and Capital Cities.
Camping at the site will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday and end at noon on July 14. The concert itself begins with the first performer taking the stage at 1 p.m. on Friday.
“The sponsors have been a good partner in this project,” Helsmoortel said in his statement. “Anything requested or required by the town or the county has been promptly fulfilled. The mass gathering permit requirements are being followed to the letter, the Winston Farm has been transformed into a safe and beautiful setting for our visitors, and all local concerns and issues have been addressed.”
“A team of town officials has been put together to ensure that all aspects of the concert are handled in a careful and safe manner,” Helsmoortel said. “The town has also worked closely with emergency services to ensure that disruptions to the community will be kept to a minimum through careful planning and coordination.”
Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said he believes the impact from the festival will be minimal to the town and village. He said the festival is concentrated in one area of the community, which is Winston Farm. Additionally, the Saugerties police will assist the state police who have primary law enforcement responsibilities for the concert site and traffic plan, Sinagra said.
State police Capt. Robert Nuzzo said he has worked with the festival promoter, town and Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and a “pretty decent working traffic plan” is in effect. He said people not attending the concert are encouraged to avoid the area if they can because of the heavier than normal traffic. If attendees follow the directions they have been provided with, there should be minimal impact on the area from traffic, Nuzzo said.
Troopers will be working on traffic posts and will be assigned to a security detail during the event, Nuzzo said. He said the festival has a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs and violators will be turned over to the police.
“They have a tremendous internal security staff,” Nuzzo added of the festival organizers. He said troopers and deputies would be driving around the site, making sure traffic is moving, that on one is trying to hop the fence, and that no illegal activities are taking place.
Sinagra said his officers would be working 12-hour shifts during the festival. Half of the department would be assigned to a concert detail, while the other half would handle the regular calls for service in the town and village, he said. Sinagra added that all of his department’s additional costs are being paid for by the festival organizers.
The organizers are also covering all the costs incurred by the town and other agencies involved, including the state police and Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, the town is receiving $5 for each ticket sold, with the money going to the Saugerties Festival Development Corp.
The Festival Development Corp. was a town panel that grew out of the Woodstock ’94 concert, with members of the Town Board at the time also serving as members of the corporation. The proceeds from that concert were used to buy and renovate the current Town Hall building.
The festival promoters have also put up a $500,000 cash bond to cover any outstanding claims or costs arising from the event.
Helsmoortel added that the Thruway exits would not be closed in Saugerties as they were for the Woodstock ’94 concert. He said state police would redirect concert-goers who try to exit in Saugerties but will not stop local residents. There may be some delays in the areas of Routes 32 and 212, “especially when the campers come and go, but these should be at a minimum,” Helsmoortel said.
As for the traffic itself, concert attendees coming from the south will be directed to exit the Thruway in Kingston, while those coming from the north will be told to exit in Catskill. Attendees exiting in Kingston will then be directed to take state Route 375 in Woodstock to Route 212.
Festival promoters are also seeking to minimize the traffic by encouraging attendees to carpool and by offering a variety of shuttle buses running between Winston Farm and area mass transit sites. That includes daily shuttles to the train stations in Rhinecliff and Poughkeepsie.
Parking for attendees that will not be camping on site will be available at the Cantine Field complex, Helsmoortel said. He said that parking would be carefully regulated and shuttle buses would run between Cantine Field and the Winston Farm to minimize local disruptions.
“A shuttle will run hourly into the village and this will help local businesses who were harmed in 1994 when the village was virtually closed down because of that festival,” Helsmoortel added. “Local day ticket holders can also board the shuttle at the Cahill Elementary School to go to the concert without having to take their own cars.” He said a limited number of tickets to the festival will be available for local residents at a reduced price.
“Residents can expect that the size of the crowd and its impacts on local traffic will be about the same as a single day during the Garlic Festival,” Helsmoortel said.
As part of the traffic plan for the festival, several local roads would be designated for no parking, including no parking on the shoulder, between Thursday and July 14, Sinagra said. He said any vehicles parked on the restricted roadways would be towed.
The restricted roadways are: Route 212; Route 32; Churchland Road; Churchland Lane; Division Street; Morse Road; Brown’s Lane; county Route 35; Solway Road; Augusta Savage Road; Mower’s Mill Road; People’s Road; Collins Lane; Fish Creek Road; Hommelville Road; and county Route 34.
In terms of health and safety, a dozen ambulances would be kept on site and used to transport any festival attendees who need to be hospitalized, Helsmoortel said. He said Diaz Ambulance Service would also have an additional 24-hour car available just for town needs and an additional ambulance would cover the area from Kingston north, including Woodstock.
County, local emergency and police services are prepared if problems develop with illegal substances, and can close the concert down if anything gets out of hand, Helsmoortel said. He added that every festival attendee would be searched twice, with their vehicles and then upon entering the fenced-in concert site. More than 200 security guards will ensure that illicit entry onto the property will not occur during the festival, Helsmoortel said.
“This is a first-class operation,” Helsmoortel said. “We are happy to work with Jeremy Schaller, the property owner, whose long-term intentions are to establish a Saratoga-like music and arts venue for the Winston Farm. We offer our best wishes in this effort, knowing that the Winston Farm is a special place for Saugerties, which we all want to be protected.