Proposal for Downtown Live! festival in Hagerstown would include more diverse performers

June 11, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday heard a request for a third Downtown Live! music festival from local developer Mike Deming of The Demcore Companies.

After hearing the council's concerns, Deming will revise the plan and return to the council July 8 with an updated proposal, said Karen Giffin, the city's director of community affairs.

Deming proposed an Oct. 25, 2008, date for the festival, to be held primarily on South Potomac Street from 2 to 10 p.m.

In a letter to city officials, Deming proposed a more "diverse array of performers" for this year's festival, in hopes of attracting a more diverse crowd, he said. The lineup would include more soft-rock and reggae bands, and organizers will not consider heavy-rock bands that brought more disorderly fans in the past, Deming wrote in the letter.


He also plans to increase the number of visual artists, street performers and family-friendly activities, Deming said. Tuesday's proposal also mentioned using plastic bottles of beer rather than the beer trucks and draft beer that were offered last year.

Last year's Downtown Live! Music & Arts festival ran from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., but was sparsely populated until the afternoon, Deming said.

City Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer questioned Deming as to why he didn't consider using the city's central lot, where the annual Western Maryland Blues Fest is held, as she suggested last year.

Deming said he was hesitant to change the location since the street location worked pretty well last year.

When asked by Councilwoman Penny May Nigh which location he would prefer, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said his department could deal with the festival either way, though holding the festival in the central lot would simplify things, the chief said.

Several arrests were made at last year's festival.

"Last year, as far as safety, it sucked," Nigh said.

Nigh was not at all happy with the proposed location of the festival, on South Potomac Street between Antietam Street and Washington Street, with the stage set up on North Potomac Street, facing the crowd on South Potomac Street.

Nigh asked how many police officers would be used for the event. Sgt. Kevin Simmers said the number of officers needed would be determined after police know what kind of bands will play.

Deming would foot the bill for all city services used for the event.

Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean also expressed a preference for the central lot.

"Do we need to close off a street one more time?" she asked.

Deming planned to rework his proposal using the central lot as a venue, Giffin said.

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