More than the money

Sue
Sue Hickey
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Is the money a problem, or are there more potentially serious issues arising from the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival?

It's time for people to think about both.

Grand Falls-Windsor council has released the figures for this year's festival. It shouldn't come as a surprise that for the third year in a row, there was a loss, this time totaling $45,000. Star attraction Akon didn't come cheap. He and his entourage cost the town $150,000.

Is the money a problem, or are there more potentially serious issues arising from the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival?

It's time for people to think about both.

Grand Falls-Windsor council has released the figures for this year's festival. It shouldn't come as a surprise that for the third year in a row, there was a loss, this time totaling $45,000. Star attraction Akon didn't come cheap. He and his entourage cost the town $150,000.

One issue, obviously, is whether the town can afford to keep spending big bucks on big-name acts. It's a risk, of course, because what you book today may be yesterday's news tomorrow -"that guy Akon? He is SO five minutes ago!" - or end up being a dud, especially if the act is a "dinosaur" band whose music is irrelevant to many of today's audiences.

However, there is another issue for council, residents and visitors to think about. It's something that could be a real disaster and it's called the Red Cliff Rocks campground.

There are 1,400 campsites with up to four persons allowed. You can bring all the beer you want, but cans only. If you haven't braved the site before, you'll notice that the grounds themselves are laid in a quasi-town site plan. There are dirt "avenues" and "streets" leading to different sections of the campgrounds, each bearing the names of some of the acts that played at past festivals. Jolly creative, if you call "Swollen Members Avenue" creative (we're not talking about overweight MPs here).

A mound of humanity, mostly young adults and older "big people" soused with alcohol does not make a safe venue. People who feel like they missed out on the 60smight consider the campground a 21st century Woodstock. But not too many realize the original primordial "peace, love and music" weekend was anything but. People were trampled on and substance abuse was the order of the day.

With Red Cliff Rocks, the issue isn't a tirade against drinking, but there are things to be considered. There are problems with alcohol and substance abuse and assault, both physical and sexual. Female campers can be targeted by males who figure that girls wearing shorts and tank tops on a hot day give guys a licence to grope or worse. Contrary to popular belief, what someone is wearing should never be justification for sexual assault. Sometimes males can even be the victims of other males who claim, "I was too drunk to know what I was doing."

Some people have made the observation about the campground: "it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt really bad or killed down there!" Perhaps that's a bit of an extremist view, but all you need to think about is an incident at a local club this past year. That started as a minor bar brawl but escalated to a riot where at least one person was left unconscious and bleeding on the ground. How long before something that happens at Red Cliff Rocks and a minor incident erupts into a beer-crazed major fight? Death by lack of crowd control has happened. Just ask English soccer fans, concertgoers and more recently shoppers at a New York Boxing Day sale. People were killed at each of those events.

No matter who's playing and how much money is spent, now's the time to focus on another aspect of the festival - the campground. There should be a call to make Red Cliff Rocks safer and more secure. And there needs to be a change in attitude.

Binge drinking and debauchery is not only unsafe, it's uncool. As young trend watchers might say, "it is SO five minutes ago!"

Organizations: Grand Falls-Windsor council

Geographic location: Members Avenue, Woodstock

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  • max
    June 28, 2010 - 14:49

    The problem could be solved by not allowing alcohol to be brought in. Set up a bar inside and refuse to serve those too drunk. I certainly fear for any female that gors in to the campsite. not that alcohol is an excuse but that much testerone and recreational chemistry can't be safe without proper security

  • max
    June 22, 2010 - 16:05

    The problem could be solved by not allowing alcohol to be brought in. Set up a bar inside and refuse to serve those too drunk. I certainly fear for any female that gors in to the campsite. not that alcohol is an excuse but that much testerone and recreational chemistry can't be safe without proper security