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Sunny weather draws crowd to 31st annual Green River Festival

  • Lake Street Dive closes out Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Lake Street Dive closes out Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Lake Street Dive closes out Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Lake Street Dive closes out Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Fans get rowdy for Tank and the Bangas (below) at the Four Rivers Stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The sweet harmonies of Darlingside at the Green River Stage Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The crowd at the Four Rivers Stage is reflected in the sunglasses of the singer of Sun Parade Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Balloons illuminate Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Children parade led by this creature Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Tank and the Bangas at the Four Rivers Stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival, July 15, 2017. ecorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Young fans of Tank and the Bangas at the Four Rivers Stage on Saturday at the Green River Festival. July 15, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • KAt Wright plays the Four Rivers Stage on Sunday. July 16, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Dustbowl Revival plays at the Green River Fest on Sunday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Kat Wright plays the Four Rivers Stage on Sunday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Infamous Stringdusters plays the main stage on Sunday. July 16, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Bridget Kearney plays the Parlor Room Stage on Sunday. July 16, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



For the Gazette
Sunday, July 16, 2017

GREENFIELD — Sixty-eight-year-old Roberta Hurtig of Oak Bluffs had her usual seat at the Green River Festival — perched underneath an umbrella in a folding lawn chair.

“We’ve learned over the years the tricks to get in line to be in the first row of umbrellas,” she said, thinking back over her 15 years at the festival.

She annually makes the trip from her Martha’s Vineyard town, using the Green River Festival as a sort of reunion between her and anywhere from six to 10 longtime friends from across the country, like 62-year-old Nancy Delaney of Wakefield and 63-year-old Dave Treanor of Olney, Md.

“We look forward to it every year,” Hurtig said. “It really makes a nice social weekend for us.”

“It’s very friendly,” Treanor said of the music festival’s unique atmosphere.

Over 15 years, Hurtig has seen both rainy festivals and sunny ones, learning to prepare for all circumstances. Given Saturday’s sunny weather, with temperatures in the low 80s, Hurtig was ready with a water-misting fan and ice cubes.

Flora Reed, publicist for the Green River Festival, believes the weather was a likely factor in Saturday’s tickets selling out on Wednesday.

“Last year, it was pretty much rainy all weekend,” she began. “I’m sure that’s part of the reason it didn’t sell out. … But the people who come year after year come rain or shine.”

Attendance for the festival is capped at 5,000.

“A lot of people are surprised that the festival can sell out,” Reed said, glancing at the fields surrounding Greenfield Community College, where the festival is held. Despite signs up the road, Reed said box office staff at the gate often have to break the news to hopeful attendees and turn them away.

Plus, favorable weather means hot-air balloons, for which the Green River Festival is known. Balloons did not launch at last year’s event because of weather. 

Ensuring the safety and comfort of attendees during hot weather, a free water bottle refill station was set up on the lower field, located alongside Baystate Health’s cooling tent and medical staff from ConMed Response and MedCare.

Standing outside the cooling tent, which featured three industrial fans, free handheld fans and sunglasses, volunteer Alex Bigelow offered sunscreen to passersby, all with a goal of cooling people off and making sure they take a break from the sun as needed.

“Sometimes, heat can overwhelm people,” explained Tae Kim, medical director with ConMed Response. “They may not realize how hot they are.”

Though Kim and his volunteers hadn’t assisted many patients with heat-related injuries such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and dehydration as of early Saturday afternoon, he advised attendees to stay hydrated and find shelter or shade when possible.

“Anytime you’re at an outdoor festival, you’re kind of at the mercy of the weather,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a little hotter tomorrow and I’m wondering if that’s going to be a big issue.”

Other Green River Festival volunteers aided in the effort to stay cool, like 17-year-olds Talia Fountain of New Salem and Gemma Borra Paley of Ashfield, first-time attendees.

As they went about their day offering service to food vendors, it quickly became clear what they needed the most.

“It’s really the ice that’s in high demand,” Fountain said.

Sunday

As Sunday’s events at the Green River Festival wound down, bands new and returning to the festival played to a packed crowd well into the evening.

The festival capped its final day with sunny, warm weather, which helped draw a crowd on both Saturday and Sunday after a misty Friday evening. Reed, the public relations person for the festival, said that about 3,000 attended Friday, over 5,000 on Saturday and while they didn’t have the numbers for Sunday yet, it could be close to Saturday’s numbers.

With about 60 food and craft vendors throughout the weekend, attendees had a variety of things to do beyond the music at the four stages. Because the weather was good, they were also able to fly the hot air balloons on both Sunday morning and evening.

Philip Price, another festival organizer, and Reed said that Sunday included a lot of new acts, which they said is great for the festival and the ability to incorporate new music from all over.

“We have a lot of great first-time talent, and I just love it when we get new bands,” Reed said.

Reed said organizers wanted to thank all of the people who attended and contributed to the festival over the weekend.

“We have a really strong music-loving community here in Western Mass and we couldn’t do this without them,” she said.