Eastover backing BerkshireStock music festival, making it a go

Wednesday September 5, 2012

LENOX -- The on-again, off-again outdoor rock festival slated for the Eastover Resort on the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16 is definitely on, now that it has been taken over from organizer and promoter Michael Sayers by Eastover's co-owner, Yingxing Wang.

Wang confirmed on Wednesday that the BerkshireStock event, modeled on the famed 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, N.Y., is now being funded and organized entirely by Eastover. Sayers will assist in planning, Wang told The Eagle as she surveyed extensive land-clearing and logistical preparations on the resort's natural amphitheater site on a meadow at the foot of a hill overlooking October Mountain State Forest, with Mount Greylock visible in the distance.

Eastover is prepared to sink more than $100,000 into site preparation, electrical hookups, the stage, the backline required by the bands (sound and lighting equipment as well as other facilities), and other logistics to accommodate what Wang still expects could be a crowd of 2,000 to 5,000 concertgoers, including some overnight campers.

More than 30 local and regional bands are lined up, said Wang, who has asked all performers to confirm arrangements directly with Eastover.

She explained that she delayed giving the official green light for the festival until Wednesday because "since we just took it over, I wanted to make sure we had the stage, the backline. I didn't want to confirm until all these things are set." According to Wang, all the details were "98 percent set" with several final details to be completed by the end of the day.

As for Sayers' role, Wang described the promoter who came up with the idea as "a very honest, hard-working guy and he continues to help, but now we are taking over all of the operations, everything."

Tickets for the BerkshireStock two-day festival are $50 per person, with an additional $20 fee for concertgoers bringing an RV or camper for an overnight stay. Reservations are required to reserve space for camping, said Wang, noting that there's space for about 50; so far, 20 campers and RVs have booked locations.

Local food vendors will be on site and a few art sellers are expected to set up booths to sell their creations. Budweiser, a sponsor, will be setting up locations to sell beer. The resort will supply water and blankets.

Wang said she was not sure how many tickets have been sold, since some participating bands have been marketing them directly to members of the public.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales may help fund a recording studio for local artists in an existing building on the Eastover property, Wang said.

Under the previous arrangement, Sayers was expecting to use a portion of the revenue to reconstruct the well-known Shaggy Dog recording studio on its Stockbridge property where he resides as a caretaker. But that plan has now gone by the wayside.

Since art and music, as well as the environment, are Eastover's top priorities, Wang said "probably we'll see if we can find a place on the premises that he can use to achieve what he wants to achieve. We will be looking into that. Over the long term, probably it would be great for Eastover. But of course that's a whole new, different business where we have no expertise. We will continue to talk to Mike."

"Everything is perfect," said Sayers on Wednesday when contacted for comment. "Ying took on the party as planned, the only difference is the Shaggy Dog, but there's always next year."

He told The Eagle he has worked out an arrangement with Eastover for a portion of the revenue from the event, noting that he had spent about $12,000 from his own resources for advance preparation, including $2,800 for flyers alone.

Sayers had been hoping to use funds from advance ticket sales to cover expenses and to book nationally known headliner bands. But he had underestimated expenses, Wang said, citing sound board and lighting equipment that alone could cost $50,000.

Private security will be hired and the services of local police or Berkshire County Sheriff's units will be sought for traffic control at the East Street entrances to the resort.

"We have a very short time, 10 days, to pull this all together," said Wang when asked if she hopes to break even on the festival. "Now we have learned a lot and a big event should be planned far down the road."

But she decided to go ahead with the festival "because we got a lot of local bands involved and I don't want the enthusiasm to die. I think a lot of the local bands appreciate the opportunity to come together and play on such an incredible site."


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