Cecelia McPhee gets a sense of forboding every time she watches the video promotion posted on Camp Bisco’s website.
The short clip starts with aerial footage showing thousands of vehicles packed into Indian Lookout Country Club, the festival venue just a short distance from McPhee’s home on Duanesburg Churches Road. Now she’s wondering if the crowd turning out for the event this year will be any different than last year, when the small hamlet of Mariaville was snarled with traffic throughout the three-day festival.
“All of a sudden, I felt terrified,” she said Tuesday.
But organizers are convinced a traffic plan implemented this year will alleviate many of the problems McPhee and other area residents reported during the festival last year. Bisco spokesman Chad Shearer said opening the gates early and creating a traffic management plan to reduce congestion should make this year’s event run more seamlessly than in prior years.
“We are very confident that the plan in place will create the best possible experience for the fans and the community, allowing people to get into the venue in the smoothest possible fashion,” he said in an email Tuesday.
Festival fans will be allowed to start entering Indian Lookout at 9 p.m. today, nearly 24 hours before the first acts begin performing. Music continues from Thursday through Saturday, with campers expected to leave Sunday morning.
This year, local residents were provided with a hot-line number they can call to report traffic problems. The hot-line will be answered 24 hours a day, starting at 8 p.m. today.
Tickets remain on sale for the event, which features the Disco Biscuits and more than 100 other artists. This year, organizers pledged to limit the festival to 12,000 tickets, with only 3,000 vehicles allowed into the campground off Batter Street.
Record turnout last year caused traffic problems on the first day of the festival that left some residents trapped in their driveways or stuck miles from the lake in a line of vehicles that extended to the Rotterdam town line. A number of lake residents complained to the town Planning Board afterward, citing issues ranging from fans urinating on their lawns to garbage left behind once the traffic cleared.
Ultimately, the Planning Board cited Indian Lookout owner Frank Potter for violating the conditions of his mass-gathering permit last fall, but instead of moving to revoke the permit, they worked with him to resolve residential concerns.
Festival organizer MCP Presents hired Creighton Manning Engineering to produce a traffic plan that would limit congestion around Mariaville Lake, where a large number of the complaints originated. Among other measures, the study called for the creation of overflow parking lots, where fans could be diverted off Route 159 in the event of traffic problems.
MCP Presents is also encouraging fans to ride buses destined for the festival from seven major Northeast cities and is offering incentives for car pooling. Vehicles with three or more fans that are decorated with the words “I Carpooled to Camp Bisco” will be eligible for a number of prizes, including everything from wooded camping spots to backstage passes.
Shearer anticipates the changes this year will help drastically improve the experience for everyone. He said planning for this year’s festival has become “a year-round project.”
McPhee still isn’t convinced. She believes the festival will remain a source of ire for the community, despite the changes.
“I’m expecting the same thing is going to happen,” she said. “Until I see otherwise, I wouldn’t expect anything different.”