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Lollapalooza to skip Charles Town this year

May 14, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Lollapalooza, a day-long rock concert and carnival that has been coming to Charles Town since 1993, won't play a gig here this summer, track officials and a promoter said Tuesday.

I.M.P., a Washington, D.C., promotion company that in the past has organized the event locally, was unable to get Lollapalooza on a date this year that did not conflict with racing at nearby Charles Town Races, said I.M.P. attorney Mike Biel.

"We're extremely disappointed we're not going to do it at Charles Town because we loved coming to Charles Town," Biel said. "We had a great working relationship with everyone and it is a pretty town and it was fun there."

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Biel said it was his hope that I.M.P. could bring Lollapalooza back to Charles Town in the future.

Lollapalooza has been held at Shenandoah Downs since 1993. In 1994, the event drew a peak crowd here of 40,000. Last year, about 20,000 fans turned out for the Charles Town show.

This year, the closest the day-long rock concert will get to the area is a July 2 performance at the Nissan Pavilion in Manassas, Va.

Except for the possible loss of business to hotels and fast-food restaurants, Charles Town Mayor Randolph Hilton said he doesn't expect a year without Lollapalooza to have much impact on the town.

"I think a lot of the kids will be disappointed," he said.

Although the concert brought a lot of traffic into town and additional police were on duty as a precaution, Hilton said he wasn't aware of the one-day event causing any serious problems.

Several hotel owners and merchants said they aren't worried about losing the concert because the reopening of Charles Town Races will save them from any significant loss.

"It shouldn't hurt us too much even though I'd like it to be here," said Julie Easter, desk clerk at NorthGate Inn on Route 340 North.

Even though guests filled the motel during Lollapalooza, Easter said race track guests will make up for the loss.

Leo Kisner, a desk clerk at Towne House Motor Lodge on East Washington Street, said steady business since the race track reopened on April 30 has overshadowed a brief period of no vacancies at the motel when the concert came to town.

The 7-Eleven convenience store on U.S. 340 in front of the race track entrance was not mourning the loss of the concert.

"We're always busy anyway," said clerk Tina Price, although she said the store was "swamped" with people walking to the concert in years past.

Charles Town Races marketing director Bill Bork Jr. said track officials preferred that the concert take place on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday when racing is not held at Charles Town Races.

Shenandoah Downs is an idle race track that, along with Charles Town Races, is owned by Penn National, and officials there handled the Lollapalooza negotiations, Bork said.

I.M.P. attempted to work out a date with the Lollapalooza officials, but were unsuccessful, Biel said.

In the past, Lollapalooza officials were able to amend the concert date if it conflicted with a race day, Biel said.

Lollapalooza is bid out to various regional promoters, who arrange locations for the show, Biel said.

Staff Writer Lisa Graybeal contributed to this report.

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