The relative success or failure of Camp Bisco — this year or any — probably depends on who’s rendering the opinion about the three-day rock festival.
The 14,000 or so kids who drank, drugged and rocked till the cows came home almost invariably loved it, as did the venue’s owner and promoters and assorted Duanesburg businesspeople who pocketed bundles of money. The neighbors living in the immediate vicinity of Mariaville’s Indian Lookout Country Club — who once again couldn’t get out their driveways, or couldn’t get very far if they did, for parts of three and a half days — were surely at the opposite end of the spectrum. Somewhere in the middle were townspeople, even those as far away as Glenville, who live far enough away not to be impacted by the litter or traffic, but close enough to feel the excessively bass-heavy music vibrating in their sternums the whole time.
Then there were the law enforcement people — Schenectady and Montgomery county sheriffs deputies and state police — who tried mightily to maintain order and weed out the hordes of lawbreakers that gravitated to the event; and the medical and emergency services personnel, both at the site and at nearby hospitals, who gave comfort to those overcome by excess heat, drugs, alcohol and bad judgment. It’s a job they got paid to do, but it had to be pretty stressful.
Camp Bisco has been a controversial event in Duanesburg for the past eight years. Before that, a festival called the Gathering of the Vibes lured kids by the thousands for several years, with the same, mixed results. (And even before that, when the Harley Rendezvous first came to town, attendees were far less mellow than they’ve become over time.)
Some editions of Bisco have been more successful than others in terms of crowd control, but given that (1) the event has always been too big for a town of such modest size; (2) the venue’s accessibility is so limited due to the relatively small, rural roads leading to it; (3) promoters can’t do much to keep kids from showing up earlier than they should, in larger numbers than they should, or without drugs; and (4) no one can control the weather (which can instantly wreak havoc on the best-laid plans); it’s probably safe to assume that it will continue to be a crapshoot year after year.
Only if something awful happens and the town cries “no mas!” — or, more likely, if town officials just get sick of the annual headache and slap so many restrictions on the promoters that they pull up stakes for greener pastures, will Duanespeople be rid of this intrusion.
Frankly, we think the time for the latter has come. As this year’s event proved, there’s simply no way — even with the best of intentions and good planning — to ensure a smooth-running event. And the risk for that “something awful” just seems so high.