EdgeFest patrons converging on Schnepf Farms on Saturday will encounter twice as many law enforcement officers as concertgoers saw last year when criticism of the music festival for being rowdy and raunchy filled the air along with alternative rock in Tempe.
Representatives with KEDJ (103.9 FM), which is putting on the show at the family farm at Queen Creek, said ticket sales are on pace to match last year’s attendance of 16,214.
For more than a month, Maricopa County sheriff’s Lt. John D’Amico has been working with KEDJ personnel, venue owner Mark Schnepf and Queen Creek officials to avoid problems involving crowd size, a limited number of officers, and lack of water that hampered last year’s event.
Authorities say they learned from Tempe’s troubles and are bracing for everything that comes with the outdoor festival that lasts from noon until 10 p.m. Saturday.
Thousands of vehicles are expected to travel down the two-lane stretches of Rittenhouse, Combs, Cloud and Gary roads leading to Schnepf Farms. Sheriff’s officials will be on the lookout for drug use, underage drinking and fighting. And, there’s the dust which under a county ordinance must be controlled or traffic to the venue could be shut down.
To monitor these activities, KEDJ is paying for the services of 30 off-duty deputies of the 40 deputies who will be there and 100 security guards, who will monitor the crowd and check IDs, said Nat Galvin, vice president of KEDJ.
D’Amico advises drivers to give themselves two hours to get to the venue.
At the end of the show there will be 10 deputies controlling intersections, steering people to roads where they can access U.S. 60.
For those who do get out of hand during the event, the sheriff’s office will have a booking van on-site and two jail vans to transport people to the county jail in Mesa.
To battle the dust, Schnepf on Monday and Thursday had the mile of road that leads to the farm and walkways at the farm sprayed with a mixture of water and chemicals that forms a hard surface over the dirt and prevents it from rising into the air.
Last year, the music festival overwhelmed Tempe Beach and the five food vendors when a larger-than-expected group of fans showed up to buy tickets at the gate, Galvin said.
Tempe police Cmdr. David Humble, who oversaw the police department’s special services bureau last year, said 20 off-duty officers were assigned to the event, based on an expected crowd of about 10,000.
Humble said the trouble wasn’t people fighting or drinking too much but a large crowd that had no food or water early in the show.
Galvin said that this year, there are some 20 food vendors and water stations throughout the venue. The New Times also is providing eight free water stations where fans can refill their bottles.
“I can promise we have over-ordered water,” Galvin wrote in an e-mail. “There will be an abundant supply of refreshing H2O and a variety of food options.”
Kathy Berzins, supervisor of special events for Tempe Parks and Recreation, said EdgeFest could have returned to Tempe if it met certain criteria, but in the spring KEDJ decided to relocate the concert.