The kinks of a first-time festival seemed worked out by Sunday, when as many as 30,000 rocked out to the final day of Napa’s BottleRock music festival.
Though the event got off to a rocky start Wednesday and Thursday with confusion over the location of will-call and the event’s re-entry policy, by Sunday festival workers and attendees seemed to have the routine down and were focused on taking in the final acts and indulgences of Napa’s largest-ever event.
Emboldened by their overall success, organizers announced before the five-day event’s final show Sunday that BottleRock will be back for a second year. BottleRock 2014 will be three days, from May 9-11. Tickets are on sale now.
“Everyone is so impressed as am I as a local,” Marie Lyall, a Napa resident and festivalgoer, said via email. “The Napa police has been fabulous, garbage containment throughout the downtown streets has been used and free bike parking throughout the downtown.”
The event brought out an estimated 10,000 people for its soft launch Wednesday night, between 17,000 and 20,000 Thursday, around 30,000 Friday, just under 35,000 Saturday and around 30,000 Sunday, according to organizers. The Expo grounds were at capacity Saturday, but BottleRockers spread themselves out between three stages, two food areas and other attractions.
“I think it has been amazing,” said Erin Lawley of Mill Valley. “What everyone was concerned about hasn’t been an issue. There’s plenty of water, food, the restrooms are clean. Yeah, there are lines but that’s to be expected. ... Everything is running smoothly, I’d definitely come back.”
A BottleRock organizer said staff reassessed operations each night and added more water, ID-check, food chip stations and other amenities as needed. A behind-the-scenes, pop-up sign shop at the Expo printed out new signs as necessary.
The two biggest complaints heard from concertgoers on Sunday were about the long lines to filll up water bottles and the helicopters circling overhead.
Scott Lyall, owner of the Clothes for Men boutique in the Napa Riverfront, had nothing but positive things to say about BottleRock, which he said he’d “definitely love to see back.”
Sunday morning, he said he did the same amount of business between Wednesday and Saturday that he usually does in two weeks. He stayed open a couple hours later each night and was able to serve some of the BottleRockers who went downtown for drinks and food after the concerts wrapped up at 10 p.m.
“My sales were through the roof, especially on Friday and Saturday,” Lyall said. “Everyone that walks in, I talk to them about how it’s going in (BottleRock) and 98 percent were nothing but positive.”
Lyall called the event “unbelievable” and described it as, “one of the best things to happen to Napa in a while.”
Julie Johnson, Michelle Jentz and Lora Voit made the trek to BottleRock from Southern California as a Mother’s Day weekend getaway. Their only complaint was that VIP passes were sold out.
“I’m 65, (Lora’s) 75. If we’re having a fabulous time, the people in their 40s, 30s and 20s must be having a great time,” Jentz said.
As the three sat under the shade of a tree at the WillPower Stage on Sunday afternoon, they went back and forth about all the fun they had and the acts they’d seen.
“I can’t pick out one highlight because it has all been great,” said Voit, a San Diego resident.
Jentz, who also lives in San Diego, said she particularly enjoyed sampling Napa Valley wine at the festival.
“We had the best time at the wineries,” she said. “We learned so much about the different wineries by visiting the different wine booths.”
A few days into the festival, volunteers said they had the lay of the land down and their job was easy. Saturday, neighborhood ambassadors Loma Alexander, of Calistoga, and Peggy Francis, of Napa, said things were running smooth. They reported some confusion during the early days of the festival with out-of-towners having difficulty finding Copia, where will-call was situated, but said by Saturday, everyone was at ease.
“If they have it again, we will be here,” Jentz said Sunday afternoon. “We loved it; we had a blast.”