Another Green River Festival is in the history books, and this one was a great one, different in some ways, but the same in how it captured the essense of summer in the Pioneer Valley. Monte from WRSI said that from the stage, so much of what we all love about the event mirrors what we love about living here.
This year’s festival had a few things that seemed different, and a few new elements that made it better. Mary and I felt that the lines for the parking lot buses were longer this year. We were not sure but we thought there were more than two buses being used to shuttle people to the remote parking lots last year. It might have just been that there were more people there this year. The sales were 4500 tickets for both days, which when you add in the comps and the volunteers brought the crowd number up to about 5500 both days.
I’ve always thought that far more people attended this event–but that once again speaks to our sparsely populated county and this whole region of Western Mass, where just 160,000 people live. It’s hard to find a crowd larger than this at any event since there are not that many of us here to begin with!
The layout of the festival was vastly better, with the arts and crafts booths arranged on the lower field in an orderly row, a sort of shopping avenue, and having some food trucks mixed in at the end made this work much better. We also liked having a full open stage down at the far right instead of two dark and sweaty tents. At one point one of the member of the 11-piece Debo Band from Ethiopia jumped right off the stage and into the crowd to continue singing in our company.
The addition of the beer and wine tent was a major change, and for the most part it all went well. It was a little tough on Saturday night when Berkshire Brewing boss Gary Boghoff had to enforce a 9 pm shut off and people were still streaming into the beer tent. Not sure why they had to shut the spigot off that early when at least two hours of fest remained…but it was hard to get people to stop coming in, despite two cops who hung out in the beer tent the whole time.
Additions to the food offerings were tasty–Aurora’s Gypsy Wagon’s tasty bread with savory toppings and the Shroomerie by Chanterelle were new and brought eclectic items to the already varied fare. As someone told the Recorder, “I expected hot dogs and funnel cakes.” Not exactly.
The rain could have made for a muddy disaster but most people were well-equipped, like us, with massive “sport-brellas,” ponchos and regular umbrellas so we all carried on, having fun, enjoying the sounds of Dave and Phil Alvin, and finally headliner Josh Ritter under our little shelters. All was good, another great year!