Camp Bisco sold out all of its three-day tickets hours before its first musical acts took the stage and just moments after the bulk of the fans inundating the lakeside hamlet of Mariaville cleared the entrance gates late Thursday morning.
Organizers announced the close of sales through the festival’s official Twitter account around 11 a.m., though a limited number of single-day tickets remained for Saturday. The sellout was declared about a half-hour after the majority of campers were brought into the Indian Lookout Country Club on Batter Street — roughly 11 hours after the gates first opened Wednesday.
“If you don’t have a ticket yet, please do not try to get in, you will be turned away,” organizers stated in a post to Camp Bisco’s Facebook page.
Thunderstorms that rolled through the area Wednesday afternoon also made ushering fans onto the campground a bit more difficult than the previous year. Though organizers initially anticipated opening the gates by early evening, torrential downpours left some areas too soft to be used.
Traffic snarls began developing late Wednesday evening and continued throughout Thursday morning, prompting some residents around the hamlet to recall the years before organizers enacted a traffic plan to mitigate quality-of-life issues. Some along the route to the 200-acre campground complained the creeping mass-migration of fans left them sleepless during the pre-dawn hours and gathering up litter after the sun rose. One resident even claimed to find a naked man squatting on the edge of her property.
“This is a horrible, disgusting situation,” exclaimed Ardene Kalteux, a resident of Duanesburg Churches Road and critic of the event, who was angered by the ceaseless traffic. “I’ve been a prisoner here since 8 o’clock [Wednesday] night.”
But by Thursday afternoon, traffic had abated and there seemed to be few signs of the issues that had drawn residents’ ire earlier in the morning. Inside the campground, a mellow Bisco crowd basked in the dry air under sunny skies as the first acts of the festival took the main stage.
“I wouldn’t have missed this thing for the world,” beamed Nick Bianchi, a Rotterdam resident who returned home from a trip to California to attend the show. “We all just like a good time.”
As promised, this year’s festival features a greater medical presence than before. In addition to having five medical outposts spread throughout the campground, organizers also created an additional clinic close to the main stage and will have a doctor on hand at the main clinic at the center of the site.
Additional paramedics and a cadre of more than four dozen emergency medical technicians are staffing the festival this year. An additional advance life support ambulance was also brought in, meaning there will be a total of three rigs on the premises.
“We all just worked together based on the needs of the event and to make it safe for everybody,” said Melissa Renaude, the head EMT at the campground.
Now in its eighth year at Indian Lookout, organizers claim the event draws about 12,000 fans each year. In the past, this figure has been disputed by people attending the event and critics who claim it drastically impacts the quality of life in the quiet lakeside community.
Organizers implemented a comprehensive traffic management plan in 2012 to help reduce the massive traffic problems witnessed in 2011. The plan moved many vehicles from the campground to overflow lots — including one at Maple Ski Ridge about seven miles away — and created a system of buses to shuttle fans to the campground.
Frank Potter, owner of the campground, blamed some of this year’s problems on the police presence leading up to the campground. Specifically, he singled out the Schenectady County Sheriff Department’s road patrol, which maintains a strong presence around the lake throughout the festival, for contributing to the pre-dawn traffic snarls that developed throughout the hamlet.
“They were trying to commit me to failure,” he said.
Potter also blamed county officials for dragging the permitting process out longer than usual. He questioned whether the county is purposely trying to sink the event only a year after he and organizers were able to bring fans into the campground with few difficulties.
“Last year, we proved we could do it,” he said. “This year, we had interference from the time we started the process in January until the day before the event. This is personal.”
County officials disputed Potter’s assertions. County Attorney Chris Gardner said the permitting process was a bit more stringent this year because of some issues that arose last year, namely the number of hospital visits generated from the festival, including several drug overdoses.
“The [county] Health Department was just trying to do its job,” he said.
Sheriff Dominic Dagostino also disagreed, claiming his road patrol did nothing differently this year. He blamed the traffic issue on the “sheer volume” of vehicles going to the campground.
“This is pretty much what we deal with every year,” he said.