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Radio station's music fest outgrows Red Run Park

February 25, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The WAYZ Summer Fun Fest, Washington Township's most popular annual event, is looking for a new home, its promoter said Monday.

The festival, which brings in headline country music stars along with local talent for free concerts, has been held at Red Run Park in Rouzerville, Pa., for the last 14 years, a venue no longer open to its promoter, radio station WAYZ in Greencastle.

Marge Martin, general manager of WAYZ, said she's looking for another site in Franklin County to hold this year's event.

She said she has two prospective sites in mind, including the Franklin County Fairgrounds, but does not have a definite commitment. So far, no performers have been lined up.

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"We're reasonably sure we're going to have one this year," she said.

The 2002 event, held in August, was the final Fun Fest at the community park east of Waynesboro. The Washington Township Supervisors got cold feet over the growing size of the crowd attending the event in recent years. Fun Fest regularly has drawn between 10,000 and 13,000 country music fans,

"It got too big," said Jerry Zeigler, township zoning enforcement officer and head of its park system. "It's unsafe for our residents. We had no other option."

Zeigler said a little girl nearly was run over by a bus that was bringing one of the performers into the park last year. The bus was moving slowly, but the driver did not see the girl, he said.

"I was standing there, but I couldn't move fast enough to get her out of the way. A guy next to me did," he said.

"We told WAYZ last year at this time that the festival was getting too big for the park, that they'd have to find someplace else to hold it," Zeigler said.

"I don't want anyone getting killed in one of our parks," he said.

The township allowed the festival at Red Run Park over the years as a benefit to the community, Zeigler said.

"It's a small park. It's not the best place to have it anymore," he said.

Zeigler said another problem this year is the widening of Pa. 16 toward Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. Construction on that project would cause even more traffic hazards at Red Run Park if the festival were to be held in August.

WAYZ has been sponsoring the country music festivals for 22 years. The first eight years they were held at PenMar Park with only local bands, Martin said.

She said the station needs a site where there is adequate parking for the crowds that show up. "Parking is crucial," she said.

Zeigler said in recent years the township offered to let the station hold the festival at Pine Hill, Washington Township's big new community park east of Red Run, but the promoter never took them up on it.

Historically free to patrons, Martin said things may be different this year.

"We'll probably have to pay for a field," she said.

Zeigler said preparing for the festival, including installation of temporary fencing and extra police protection, cost the township more than $6,000 every year.

Martin said she has never been told about any cost to the township.

"That's news to me," she said.

She said the radio station always donates $400 to $500 to the township after each festival.

Patrons come from the local area plus Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and even from as far away as Ohio, Martin said.

Past stars to perform at Fun Fest include Toby Keith, Aaron Tippin, Trisha Yearwood, Steve Wariner, Lonestar and SHeDAISY.

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