SARATOGA SPRINGS — Thousands of people streamed into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday, and will again on Saturday, for the Dave Matthews Band.
And the venue wasn’t the only place fans visited.
More than 800 campers packed into Lee’s Park on Route 9P on Friday.
Owner Leo Nosal Jr. said in 2010 he decided to rent school buses to trek concert-goers to and from SPAC.
“People really like having the shuttle,” Nosal said. “At least 50 percent of the people who stay here use it and people don’t have to worry about finding parking.”
Chris Chiarella of Rochester has stayed at Lee’s Park for the past four years and uses the shuttle bus to get to the concert.
“It’s way safer than taking a car,” he said. “Plus, it’s convenient.”
On Friday, Chiarella was at a camp site with 20 other friends he’s met over the years at the campground.
He said SPAC is one of the best venues to watch Dave Matthews Band.
“SPAC has the best acoustics,” Chiarella said. “It’s an awesome place to be.”
Dave Matthews has performed at SPAC nearly 40 times in the last 24 years.
Nosal said he’s noticed that many of the patrons who stay at the campground for Dave Matthews Band are in their late twenties and thirties.
“Ten years ago most of them were in their early 20s, but now they’re older,” he said.
Amy Reid and her husband, Ricky Williams, both in their 40s, have been attending Dave Matthews Band concerts for nearly 20 years.
The Buffalo couple decided to stay at Lee’s Park last year as motels in the area were booked.
“It’s not expensive and it’s a great place to camp,” Reid said. “And we love having the shuttle.”
Williams said he and his wife frame their Dave Matthews Band ticket stubs from the concerts they’ve attended over the years.
“We’re older, but we’re definitely not the oldest fans,” he said. “We keep coming back to SPAC, because it’s beautiful.”
Nosal said as Dave Matthews Band fans have gotten older, it has impacted his business.
“Many of them now have families and can’t take time off to go on road trips as much,” he said.
Though there were 800 campers at Lee’s Park as of Friday, Nosal said that number is a lot less than previous years.
“About five or 10 years ago, we’d have double that,” he said. “We rented six buses for [Friday] and last year we rented about eight or nine.”
Nosal said unless the number of campers increases in the summer moving forward, he said he’d likely have to use some of the camp sites for those with travel campers and recreational vehicles.
“Businesswise, it’s better for me to expand that area and just save room for about 500 to 1,000 campers,” he said. “I’d also only take reservations, so I could plan better.
“I have to decide what direction to go in.”
Artisanal Brew Works on Geyser Road was hosting a pre-concert party and charged concert-goers $4 for their first beer with their ticket stub before both Friday and Saturday concerts.
“It’s a no brainer that we should be doing something associated with concerts at SPAC,” said Dan Kravitz, taproom manager. “It offers people a place to hang out before the concert and gives people from out of town a chance to check out our products.”
Kravitz said the brewery makes a special beer that is available on draft at SPAC.
“We want to bring more business into the brewery, of course, but our overall purpose is to make people aware of what’s available to them,” he said. “We try to raise awareness about the beer scene in Saratoga Springs with the events we have at the brewery.”
Boca Bistro on Broadway held its second wine dinner on Thursday featuring Dave Matthews’ Dreaming Tree wine.
The event launched last year in an effort to get Matthews to visit the restaurant.
Bill Gathen, director of marketing, wrote a song and produced a music video with Mike Ruggiero, marketing manager, to entice the musician into attending the event.
“He said he couldn’t make it, but he sent us backstage passes last year,” Gathen said of Matthews.
Last year’s event attracted 250 people between two dinner events. On Thursday, 125 people enjoyed a five-course wine and food pairing.
“He said he couldn’t come again, but for us it’s the novelty of inviting him,” Gathen said of Matthews. “We have people who come in from out of town and they make it part of their weekend.
“If he comes to town next year, we’ll do it again.”