Cars and tents line the campground at the 2009 ROTHBURY music festival Sunday afternoon, July 5. The four day camp-in music festival now in its second year attracted an estimated 36,000 people.
Photo By Andrew Skinner
By John Cavanagh
A “global” presence was felt in southern Oceana County as people from around the world made their way to the second annual ROTHBURY music festival at the Double JJ Resort in Rothbury this past holiday weekend.
“A lot of people,” said Rothbury Village President and Police Chief Bob Walker. “A tremendous amount of people. Was it successful? Yes, it was very successful. It was phenomenal to talk to people from all over (the world).”
Walker said he met people from South Africa, the United Kingdom and many people from Canada. Many concert-goers flew into Chicago and made the trip north, Walker said. He acknowledged there were some problems, but from a public safety standpoint it was very successful, considering the number of people. He likened it to the community of Muskegon coming together for a four-day party.
Michigan State Police Public Information Officer Lt. David Roesler, of the Grand Haven Post, said there were 33,000 tickets swiped at the gate, plus another 1,500 in support staff, campers and complimentary tickets issued. With police and security, he estimated total attendance at approximately 36,000. Roesler said police parked about 14,000 cars. Many concert-goers asked to have their pictures taken with police officers, but Walker said he would only do it if they behaved themselves.
“It went pretty smooth from our point,” Roesler said.
For the most part, the crowd controlled itself, Roesler said. He said there were no deaths related to the festival as compared to last year when there were two drug-related deaths. He said 15 patients were transferred for treatment to hospitals.
From the medical side, Oceana Ambulance Service Director Lance Corey said the event was completely uneventful. Most issues ambulance personnel dealt with were medical and trauma related.
“Just stuff we deal with on a regular basis,” Corey said, adding the event may have gone smoother than the one held last year.
Roesler said police made 88 arrests — 38 of which were felonies and the other 50 misdemeanors.
“The guys are still out there,” Roesler said. “There’s the potential to have a few more as these people leave.”
The Oceana County Jail was filled to capacity after the first day July 2. County Jail Administer Terry Haynor said some inmates were transferred to Mason County late last Friday to make more room. The jail remained below capacity after that.
“Mason County graciously assisted us by taking 10,” Haynor said.
The sheriff’s department had also made arrangements to take violators to Newaygo County if needed, but none were taken, Haynor said.
County wide, the jail processed 86 people from July 1 through noon Monday. Of those processed, Haynor said 24 remained.
Rothbury Police had three regular officers on site during the festival and hired additional officers from other departments. Roesler would not say how many state police troopers from throughout the Lower Peninsula worked the festival.
“We had enough to do the job,” Roesler said. “We haven’t released the numbers the last two years because of tactics and security reasons.”
Roesler said the increased drug enforcement at this year’s event developed out of the experience police gained last year. He said they mainly targeted people selling drugs.
“We got one year under our belt last year,” Roesler said. “That’s where the increase came from.”
Drug arrests were made for marijuana, hashish, LSD, cocaine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, methamphetamine, nitrous oxide, ecstasy and prescription drugs.
According to Roesler, there were some disappointed people wanting to see a second show in Sherwood Forest Friday night after theirs near the campground, ended. They weren’t allowed in, he said, because the Sherwood Forest show was at capacity.
“They got a little excited about that, wanting to get in,” Roesler said.
Traffic in and out of the festival ran smooth. Roesler said people returning from last year were more familiar with the area and attempted to enter the festival using back roads, but were turned back. Most traffic came from the south.
“From a state police perspective, it went as well as we could expect,” Roesler said. “I’m proud of the job the state police troopers did.”