Port Orford prepares for music festival

By Ryan Sparks, Curry Coastal Pilot July 25, 2014 10:36 pm

Bi-Mart Country Music Festival venue layout

The Cape Blanco Music Festival is just around the corner, and an expected 20,000 country music fans, volunteers and festival workers descend on Port Orford and the surrounding areas, many local businesses and services are in the final stages of preparing for the massive event, the first of it’s kind in the Southern Oregon area. The theme around town seems to be the old Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

“The last six months we’ve been trying to prepare for this event,” said Jed Davis, supervisor of the Ray’s Food Place in Port Orford. “We’re just making sure everything falls into place at the right time. You can’t get everything done in one day and you can’t expect everything to show up in a day. So we are just making sure we are ready.”

Davis explains to get his store ready for the influx of people that will be coming to the Port Orford/Sixes area Aug. 1-3 he printed out a list of the top items needed in case of a disaster. 

“We’ve used about 80-percent of that list,” said Davis. “I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but what else do we have to compare to it?”

Davis explains that many of the items aren’t on a normal shopping list, like bandages, sunscreen and firewood; but Ray’s has beefed up several sections of their store to meet customer needs.

Management at Ray’s also states that they’ve contacted stores that are used to dealing with large concerts in the area to gain advice.

“We’ve contacted our store down in Garberville, California, where they have a Reggae on the River festival every year, and they don’t bat an eyelash at it,” said Ray’s grocery manager Steve Hutman. “They know what they have to do when a festival comes to town but for us, this is our first time.” 

Frank Smith, owner of the Port and Starboard restaurant, has already seen an increase in business and is looking for help ahead of the festival.

“We are already seeing a big increase in customers as the crews and volunteers have arrived to begin work on the site. We see a lot of them coming in for lunch and dinner. Thus, we are looking for extra help at this time, specifically for experienced waitresses,” he said. 

Smith explains that he is adapting his business to meet the demands of festivalgoers. 

“I’m going to have to limit my menu: We have a nine page menu, and there is just no way we can serve that many people with that type of menu. We’re going to have to limit the menu so we can serve that many people if it comes to that. I’m even thinking about doing a buffet or something of that nature. We just don’t know right now because it’s never happened before so we are just planning for the worse case scenario,” he said.

The Shell gas station, one of only two gas stations in Port Orford, is preparing for out-of-towners who will be looking to gas up before heading home at the festival’s end.

“We’ve talked to truck drivers in order to get shipments down here more often, which is what we normally do in the summer, but with the festival coming here we are aware that the trucks may need to come more frequently,” said Shell attendant Jaime Drescher. “We’re just making sure everything is working right and running smooth and the tanks are full.”

Local Focus

It’s not just the businesses that are being affected by the amount of people descending on the area. Locals in Port Orford, Sixes and Langlois are being told to fill their gas tanks, get cash they may need from ATMs, and get their grocery shopping done before the festival and all its attendees arrive. The thought being that roads leading in and out during the festival will be jammed with vehicles, delaying traffic to and from the area.

Though there is understandable apprehension among some of the locals, the festival will no doubt bring a much needed boost to the economy of Port Orford and surrounding cities. 

“I’ve heard that these events increase your business by about 35-percent,” said Davis. “I’m projecting it to be about 25-percent simply because it’s our first year; I don’t know how we are going to do. It’s going to be a solid-gaining week no matter what the final percentage is.”

Davis stated the company, like many other local businesses, is doing what they can to maximize profits and ensure a pleasant weekend for concertgoers and locals. 

“We are having a produce stand sale during the week of the music festival, which we moved up a week to coincide with the festival. We also have a barbecue trailer coming in and we’ve never barbecued at this location before,” he said excitedly.

Public Safety

Curry County Sheriff John Bishop is confident that the concert will run smoothly and safely after he visited a similar event in Brownsville last year and is coordinating with the production company, BootsNBeach, LLC.

“We’ve managed to work with their security teams before in Brownsville and we have put a plan together,” Bishop said. “Going off the history of the Brownsville event, there really aren’t a lot of serious injuries. If everything runs normally then I don’t think it will impact local services at all.”

Bishop explained that the production company has produced several events of this nature and have the experience needed to put on a great event in Curry County. According to Bishop, medical facilities with physicians will be on site at the event, ambulances and a medivac helicopter team will be standing by for serious emergencies, and a command center will be located at the event with deputies located throughout the site. Furthermore, Bishop explained that no deputies will be taken of off community streets or pulled from their shifts as the production company will pay overtime wages to off-duty deputies to ensure the safety of patrons as well as the community.

Traffic Crunch

The promoter has also been coordinating with the Oregon Department of Transportation to alleviate as much traffic as possible along Highway 101.

ODOT’s Jared Castle said that variable message signs, usually used to designate construction zones, will be used to ease the flow of traffic as much as possible in the area.

“There is no reason to think this festival won’t be successful,” declared Castle. “The promoter has been very proactive in working with local agencies to make sure everyone arrives and gets home safely. They have a lot of experience in handling these events in Oregon.”

Though they may get very busy over the next couple of weeks, the businesses in Port Orford are ready and waiting.

“We’re sure it’s going to be busy, but I think it’s good for the town that they are doing this out here,” said Drescher. “It’s exciting and will be a big boost to the economy.”