'Rockin' at Riverbottom,' fundraiser to help Williamsport upgrade public utilities

September 15, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Calisus guitar player George Koch jams onstage Saturday afternoon at the "Rockin' at Riverbottom" music festival in Williamsport. The event featured five bands and raised money water quality improvements to the Potomac River.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — Everyone attending “Rockin’ at Riverbottom,” a fundraiser to help the town of Williamsport begin a long, expensive journey to upgrade its public utilities, was having a good time, but the event wasn’t living up to its financial expectations.

The rock concert was promoted by the Williamsport Town Council to help the community pay its share toward the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. The town’s share is pegged at $1.1 billion by 2025 for upgrades to stormwater, wastewater and septic systems.

Councilman Bill G. Green, concert organizer, said the town could have made $50,000 to $60,000 from the five-band event at Riverbottom Park had it not been for the beer garden. Some citizens were opposed to having commercial beer companies such as Coors set up dispensing trucks around the concert grounds, much like those at most rock concerts, Green said.

Concert-goers liked to sit near the stage and drink beer while listening to the music, Green said.

“It’s like sitting at a baseball game and drinking beer,” he said.

He said the citizens who oppose beer on the ground “didn’t understand what we’re trying to do.” He said he spoke with Coors beer officials who told him if they could set up a beer truck on the concert grounds, the town could make $20,000.

“Coors promotes clean water programs,” he said.

“If we could sell beer on the grounds instead of limiting it to the beer garden (which was off to the rear of the concert grounds Saturday), we could have sold 1,000 more tickets and that’s another $10,000,” Green said. “The Maryland Department of the Environment said they’d help us apply for a grant to match that and that could mean up to $60,000.”

As it is, he said, the concert is expected to make between $15,000 and $20,000.

Green said Williamsport Mayor Jim McCleaf wants to make the concert an annual event.

“This is a seeding event for next year,” he said.

The five bands performing Saturday, from noon to 8:20 p.m., were three local groups — Edmond Allen Brown Band, Calisus and Crushed Theory. The late afternoon and evening headliners were the Charm City Devils and Rhino Bucket, both of which draw the most fans.

“Most rock concerts let you drink beer in front of the stage,” said Bruce Logan of Falling Waters, W.Va. “People come out to hear live music, drink beer and have fun, but there was so much opposition.”

“If you want to drink beer here, you have to sit way back in the beer garden away from the music,” Logan said.

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