Friday September 14, 2012

LENOX -- The town is offering a compromise to Eastover Resort in order to salvage this weekend's BerkshireStock outdoor music festival.

A lack of formal security arrangements led Town Manager Gregory Federspiel to tell Eastover's co-owner Yingxing Wang to hire a licensed security agent to patrol the grounds during the festival or face cancellation of the heavily-promoted event.

Two options for Eastover emerged Friday afternoon.

If a recognized, insured security firm can be engaged in time for the event, the festival could go forward as planned, without restrictions.

If not, an unofficial security team assembled by the resort, including crew members, volunteers and several local residents with previous experience patrolling events could oversee the 40-band concert, but attendance restrictions would be imposed, according to Town Hall sources.

A final decision is expected at a meeting Friday evening on the Eastover grounds to be attended by Police Chief Stephen O'Brien.

Federspiel told The Eagle on Friday that the town has the power to pull the resort's entertainment license if public safety appears to be threatened. Initially, he set a noon deadline for a final decision but extended it when Wang appealed for more time to negotiate with two unspecified security firms.

Earlier this week, the resort had tried but failed to negotiate a contract with three security companies. Lenox and Lee Police, the Sheriff's Department and the state police all declined last-minute requests to patrol the two-day event.

Pending final town approval, it is slated to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, when gates open, and continue through 9 p.m. Sunday with a variety of local and regional bands, overnight camping, and sales of food, beer and wine on the property.

"They need to do it right," Federspiel said, referring to security arrangements. "They're working hard to comply, and I hope they do."

O'Brien delivered the message from Federspiel to Wang this morning indicating potential cancellation of BerkshireStock.

"She was not happy about it," O'Brien said after emerging from a five-minute meeting with Wang.

On Friday morning, Wang told The Eagle that the resort had assembled a security patrol consisting of at least 20 people, including "our own crew, local security guards from various events, and volunteers. As things develop, we can always call more people in."

"The whole community is very supportive," she maintained. Wang added that "we are in contact with the sheriff's office and the state police."

According to Wang, who described the festival as a family affair, Eastover is prepared to handle as many as 10,000 concertgoers, though she expects between 2,000 to 5,000.

"Most of the people who have booked tickets are families with kids coming with campers or RVs," she said. "People are very, very respectful, they ask us what they can bring, what they cannot bring. I don't see any kind of trouble looming or whatever. I see it as a wonderful event for the local community."

This report will be updated at www.berkshireeagle.com and in Saturday's print edition of The Eagle.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto