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Solid Sound Filling Up 'Pop-Up' Campgrounds

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
Campers set up their gear on Solid Ground at the Noel Field Athletic Complex.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — If you partition it, they will come.

The three main camp sites for Solid Sound Festivalgoers are just about filled up. Solid Ground, Hoosac Valley Campground, and Camp Aggie resemble giant grids ready to host a portion of the over 7,000 concert goers to visit the Berkshires this year for the event.

Throughout the day Friday, concertgoers have been filtering through Cheshire, Adams, and North Adams with tents, coolers, grills sleeping bags, and the occasional guitar for pre-concert serenading.

Solid Ground, located at Noel Field Athletic Complex is at capacity with 375 plots accommodating four people each having all been reserved. This is also the case for the Hoosac Valley Campground, which has room for 245 campsites.

The newcomer this year is Camp Aggie located on Bowe Field in Adams.

Camp organizer Chuck Felix said Camp Aggie was the designated overflow camp and it was only expected to hold 10 to 15 campers, however, this is quickly changing.

"We didn't except much but we are up to over 40 now and we expect more to come throughout the weekend," Felix said. "It's good for us, and it makes a lot of money.

Adams Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said although there is no official plan to bring people from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus to Adams, he is hopeful some will make the trek south — especially with camps now in both Cheshire and Adams.

"Anytime an event like Solid Sound occurs you always see an increase in foot traffic, and even though the event is in North Adams, we will see increased foot traffic this weekend," Mazzucco said. "Although it [Camp Aggie] won't be that large, it's still individuals choosing to stay in Adams for the weekend who will undoubtedly do some shopping, eating, and drinking here and take some time to see the Town."

Mazzucco said the creation of Camp Aggie shows the need for more outdoor recreational lodging in the area, which is something he hopes to accomplish with the Greylock Glen.

Mazzucco said next Solid Sound he would like to have a more formal effort to tap into the foot traffic North Adams will see.

"We may be two separate towns, but we really need to look at the whole of the northern Berkshires as one community," he said. "What's good for part is good for the whole."

However, the Camp Aggie workers are doing their own advertisement.

With a fist full of maps pointing out places to eat and visit in Adams, Felix is doing his part.

"I'm handing out these maps and telling people about some of the great places to eat in Adams," Felix said. "North Adams gets most of the action, and I think it is important to redistribute it a little."

Solid Sound opens at Mass MoCA on Friday night and runs through Sunday.


Wilco Arrives at Mass MoCA

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Solid Sound Festival doesn't start until Friday evening but the signs of its arrival are evident.

The Wilco letters were hoisted above one of the entrances to Joe's Field at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday afternoon. It's a good sign after 2011's rainy weather left the letters groundside — though they did provide a great backdrop for numerous fan photos.

The weather is finally looking good — cross your fingers — so we're hoping for nice days this weekend for visitors and residents alike.

The music had already started as a practice session could be heard coming from the old Sprague's shipping department. "Don't Fear the Reaper" seemed a downer for such sunny day.

There are still tickets available for the three-day festival here. If you're local, at least you've got a place to stay. The hotels are filled, and so is the Solid Ground camping site. Two other sites have been set for festivalgoers at Hoosac Vally High School in Cheshire (Hurricane Camping — the mascot not the weather!) and at Buxton School in Williamstown.

Area residents should be aware of shuttle buses making frequent trips between camping areas and parking sites, running about every 20 to 30 minutes. Parking is expected to be at a premium around the museum, with overflow at the old Walmart, behind Big Y, the airport and other sites.

The downtown will be open for business late on Saturday night and the crowd won't be leaving MoCA until after Wilco's performance so things shouldn't be too crowded until around 11.





Solid Ground Filling Up

Andy McKeever

Javier Higuera was one of the first to arrive at Noel Field for the Solid Sound Festival. Higuera drove from Arizona stopping in major cities on the way for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Solid Ground expects to be filled to the brim.

According to Police Sgt. David Sacco, a founder of the local ROPES program, 250 tent slots and all 10 recreational vehicle spots have been sold and the campers have been trickling in all morning. Each tent can have up to four people.

"Check in started at 11 a.m. and they've been filtering in consistently since then," Sacco said Friday afternoon. The ROPES organization, lead by local emergency responders, is coordinating the camping area at the municipal park.

The site at Noel Field is expected to be full by 8 p.m. and the ROPES volunteers of more than 200 will be helping concertgoers and keeping order. The team has been shuttling people to the site by using golf carts; the threat of stormy weather does not seem to be a deterrent.

"In case of severe weather we're suggesting they head to their cars," Sacco said. "The Eagles Club also called and said that if we needed to have a mass exodus, they'll open up for us."

Some 5,000 concertgoers are coming to the area from all over the country and beyond. Sacco said there are two reservations from Canada and one from South Africa. ROPES Program coordinator John LeClair said he has seen people from across the country including Ohio, Wisconsin and California.

Well-prepared camper Javier Higuera was all set up by 1 p.m. after driving from Arizona to attend the festival. Higuera left his home on Saturday and has been stopping at major cities along the way.

ROPES set up vendors that expect to be open until 1 a.m. or even later depending on business.

"I've never been east of Denver before," Higuera said. "This is a trip of a lifetime."

Higuera is meeting up with a friend on Sunday and will be driving back – hitting even more cities along the way. Higuera said he does not have to be back to work until July 5, so he is enjoying the vacation.

The campers are flowing in with cases of beer and wine, grills, Frisbees and Wiffle ball bats.

Police are not expecting any problems. LeClair said that last year police had "zero" incidents and he expects the same this year. Medical staff and security will be on site throughout the festival, he said.

"This isn't a mosh pit," LeClair said. "They are all very nice."

Tags: Solid Ground, Noel Field      

'Solid Ground' Gets Greenlight

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A temporary downtown camping area for the Solid Sound Festival was given the greenlight by the Board of Health.

The "tent city" within walking distance of Main Street is being operated by the city through the emergency responders who volunteer with the ROPES program, a day camp for promoting teamwork and leadership in area youngsters.

The board did put some restrictions on the camp, reducing the proposed number of 300 down to 275 and eliminating farther-flung sites behind the ballfield as safety measures.

The ruling comes after several meetings, including a public hearing last week that focused on safety and sanitation.

The ROPES volunteers will provide security along with on-duty police. There will be portapotties, pay showers and a concession stand. Each tent site will be limited to four people and one tent.

Reservations for sites are being made through Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which is hosting the Wilco-curated festival.

As of last week, the number of tent sites reserved was about 140; nine of the 10 RV sites were taken. The cost is $80 for two nights. Check-in is 11 a.m. on Friday, June 24, and check-out is 3 p.m. on June 26. For more information, go to the Mass MoCA site here.

There are also a number of other campsites in the area, including the city's Historic Vally Park on Windsor Lake. The campground is currently full for the Solid Sound weekend but there is a waiting list. Call 413-662-3198 for more information. Other campgrounds can be found here, but be aware most are a half-hour or more from the city.

Tags: Solid Ground      

Wilco Tickets Selling Quicker Than Last Year

Andy McKeever

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tickets for Wilco's Solid Sound Festival are selling quicker than last year.

"We'll have at least as many as we had last year and probably more," said Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Director Joseph Thompson on Tuesday. "Ticket sales are tracking nicely above what they were at the t-minus 80 days, year-to-year count."

One of the big reasons tickets sales are up, Thompson told the Mass MoCA Cultural Development Commission, is because it is being held earlier in the summer and there are more available hotel rooms.

"It was the mayor's idea actually, to try and shift the program away from July, August into September, June or May when reservations were softer," Thompson said. "There were probably 1,000 or 1,500 more rooms available in a 30-mile radius."

The event could have been larger last year but lodging had been too difficult to find, Thompson said. Additionally, about half of the tent sites and 10 recreational vehicle sites at Noel Field Athletic Complex have been sold.

"Those are selling well. I think we are up to 165 tent slots," Thompson said. "People are excited that they can walk  from the tent site to the event."

Also regarding housing, Thompson said that last year there were a lot of rooms and houses that were rented for the weekend.

"It did happen last year. There were a lot of Craigslist listings," Thompson said. "People were selling even access to their showers on a per-use basis."

The success of the festival has even led MoCA officials to begin planning another concert event for August. The event, which will be much smaller than Solid Sound, is still in the planning stages and officials have yet to decide on the band.

"It will be some for 1,000 or 2,000 people," Thompson said. "We need to find the right band for the right price."

Tags: tickets, solid ground, Noel Field      
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Solid Sound Festival curated by Wilco at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art runs Friday through Sunday, June 26-28.

We're keeping this blog to let you know who's here, where to go, what's happening, the best places to eat and other things of interest to both residents and concertgoers.

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