Aftermath of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

Part of having a blog is the ability to rant and rave about things, and this is definitely one of those posts, so don't read on if you'll be offended by what 2% of the population does to make the rest of us look stupid. :)

This weekend was the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival -- a music fest mostly featuring reggae artists (and some fabulous ones at that). It's a three-day festival, starting mid-day on Friday, going into the wee hours on Friday and Saturday, and ending Sunday about midnight. A crowd of thousands comes up to mostly camp at the Boonville Fairgrounds, at the brewery. Guest houses, inns and hotels are also booked for those tired of tent city.

It's a great festival in many ways. We enjoy the music and the food inside is fantastic, although I admit I haven't been inside in a few years due to work. However, as with any large crowd, there are always issues, and there are always people who try and ruin it for everyone else.

There are quite a few arrests this weekend -- most due to over-imbibing or overdosing on various substances in abundant supply. There are fights, and there are helicopter trips to the hospital. All standard I think for a large event.

Foursight is in a unique position: literally across the street from all the action. For the most part, the crowd this weekend is respectful and leaves us alone. But there are always exceptions (like the woman two years ago who threw up all over my bathroom).

Now my complaints. First I'll start with business: it's lousy! With all the madness going on in the street, people pass right by, and wineries down the road don't always want to send people in this direction. I've talked to other local merchants, and they mostly agree: this festival does nothing for business. In fact, it deters a lot of our normal summertime traffic. Our wine club members avoid the weekend because of a lack of housing and abundance of general craziness.

Secondly, I just don't like having to kick people out of my tasting room! This year I had to kick out an older man who was already intoxicated and came in without a shirt, in just some jean shorts. When I told him tasting would cost him $5, he muttered "my ass," and walked out. My other customers respectfully tasting at that moment weren't so thrilled.

A young woman came in later in the afternoon. She used the bathroom, bitched about my dog being in the tasting room because she's afraid of them, then tried to leave after making me hold my dog. When I asked her if she was going to taste wine she admitted to just wanting to use the bathroom, told me she was a good person, and that porta-potties have hepatitis C! Okay, now don't get me wrong, I understand that some people are afraid of dogs, and sure, she probably is a good person, but if you're going to camp for three days at a fairgrounds, you're likely going to have to face a blue room or two. Your fear of hepatitis isn't my issue as a local merchant! And believe me, she isn't the only one. I currently have a sign on the door saying my rest room is for customers only, because we get a lot of people (especially before heading home on Monday) using all our paper towel and having a mini-shower in the sink, then leaving.

Another common complaint for me: people trying to park in our lot and go to the festival. One couple yesterday slammed a few tastes of white wine in an excuse to park and walk around for a bit. We have "no parking" signs on our driveway because people camp all weekend, light BBQ grills in the dry grass and leave not only needles and discarded baby diapers, but boxes of marijuana trimmings.

And to top it off: yesterday some guys were feeding chicken bones to my dog and laughing about it!

So, to sum it up, I think we're going to close the place down for the festival next year. It will be a good excuse to take a nice summer vacation and take a weekend off, which we rarely do. It's just a little sad that we have to come to that decision.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like you should open up a booth inside the venue during that weekend if your losing profit. It's my understanding most vendors there are local so I can't see how this hurts the communities business. Food for thought>>
Thank you for the suggestion. Yes, there are local vendors, but they pour for charity, not for themselves. We wouldn't want to take away from valuable funds going to the community.

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