Joe's Field was packed for Saturday night's Wilco performance. Left, Natalie Barnes was one of 15 'talk to a townie' volunteers. She didn't have too many people walking up to her asking questions, but rather found herself 'spilling information' while waiting in lines.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — They came, they rocked, they ate, they shopped.
Some 7,500 to 8,100 music fans descended on the city at the height of the Solid Sound Festival at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts this weekend.
The visitors filled parking lots, campgrounds and restaurants in the downtown area over the three-day weekend.
That economic impact in the city was important, but not as much as the impression they'll be leaving with.
"The message they bring back home is priceless," said Mayor Richard Alcombright on Sunday morning, as residents and visitors strolled the street market on Main Street. "They're bringing that message home to Montana, Newfoundland .. New Brunswick ... they came from all over the country."
The mayor said he'd spent some two hours at the Solid Ground campground at Noel Field Athletic Complex talking with festivalgoers who'd expressed their appreciation of the city and the welcome they'd received from residents.
"I think it gets better each and every time," he said, pointing to the increase in attendance. "From the last one, there's a noticeable difference."
The beautiful weather may had much to do with the higher traffic volume after the last festival's wet weekend. On Saturday night, a Wilco fans packed onto a dry Joe's Field, sprawling on blankets setting up lawn chairs or just swaying to the beat.
They happily hooted in return to the whistle of a train heading into the Little Tunnel and then roared as Wilco took the stage.
Far in the back was Wilco Command, headquartered in Pittsfield's mobile police command center. Police, fire and ambulance personnel were operating out of the center and ambulances were stationed nearby for the exit onto West Main Street.
Closer to the action was a first aid station run by North Adams Ambulance Service with four-wheelers borrowed from the North Adams and Florida fire departments — a way to get patients from the crowded venue to the ambulances.
General Manager John Meaney Jr. said they'd been treating mostly scrapes and bumps but several concertgoers had been taken out Friday night (and a number on Saturday night) for a variety of reasons, including a little too much festival fun.
"We're prepared and ready," said Meaney on Saturday night.
North Adams Rotary ran through 5,000 hot dogs by Saturday evening.
Despite the thousands of people over the past three concerts, Alcombright said by Sunday morning, no arrests had been made.
"This speaks volumes to everyone one who is involved in this weekend," said the mayor.
Concertgoers tried to express their appreciation with their wallets. "We had people trying to give us $20 for a Band-Aid," said Meaney. "We told them no, that's not necessary."
That generosity made an impression on City Councilor David Bond, who had volunteered at the North Adams Rotary tent selling hot dogs and soda.
"Within the first hour, we made $150 in tips," said Bond, who was gratified that "everybody's wallet was flowing" to help the causes the Rotary supports.
They also emptied the Rotary of hot dogs on Saturday — all 5,000 they had.
Wild Oats Market was also running on empty by the time Wilco took the stage. Gregory Roach said he'd made sure to bring twice as much as last time but that still wasn't enough. "I don't know what I'm going to feed them tomorrow," he joked.
Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney said the festival had been a positive for the city, including his wife, Nichole's, bakery Luma's Muffin & Mug, which had a line waiting for it to open.
"I've never sliced so many bagels in my life," he said.