A better Berkshirestock? New owner is ready to rock with Eastover rebranding

Inaugural rock festival in 2012 failed to create a buzz, but organizers are optimistic the sequel will be a success

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LENOX — How does a two-day, midsummer rock festival fit in to the mission of the rebranded Eastover Estate & Eco-Village, a holistic center focused on yoga, acupuncture, qi gong and tai chi health pursuits?

As her family's purchase of the historic resort approaches its 10th anniversary, Managing Partner Yingxing Wang says it aligns with her vision of area residents' culture — "they're into music, the arts, bars, drinks, beer."

Acknowledging Tanglewood as a "wonderful venue" for classical, pop and country music, she cited a gap: "There's no rock here."

So a sequel to Berkshirestock, a 2012 rock festival that attracted only 400 people amid organizational and security issues, would fit the bill on grounds at Eastover that "are so suitable for it," Wang said.

"Locals don't know what we're doing here," she said during a conversation at the mansion fronting the 600-acre property off East Street. "The local culture involves people who love music and the arts."

Working again with promoter Michael Sayers, who set up the first event, Wang said they hope to attract at least 5,000 to 10,000 concertgoers to Berkshirestock Festival 2 on the weekend of July 25 and 26, "though not all of them would be here at the same time, some will come for one day or the other."

Sayers listed a lineup of national and international bands for "The Riots and Rebels Tour," featuring heavy metal groups such as Quiet Riot, Southern hard-rockers like Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet, and other rock groups including Powerman 5000, Saving Abel, Saliva, Ashenmoon, MOCR, Unlocking the Truth, Inverter, Bullet to the Heart, Disquiet and Motley 2. Sayers plans performances by 30 bands during the festival.

He is already selling tickets at $100 for two days, including camping on the Eastover grounds, or $50 for one day, via Universe.com, powered by Ticketmaster.

"Every ticket will be sold to this event," Sayers told The Eagle. "There's no doubt in my mind."

He's promoting Berkshirestock Festival 2 on iHeart Radio stations such as "PYX 106" in Albany, N.Y., and WAAF, serving Boston and Worcester.

Wang acknowledges the missteps that jeopardized the 2012 Berkshirestock, primarily involving security arrangements and her lack of communication with Lenox police.

"We did not line up with the police chief, we were new, they didn't know who we are," she said. "We didn't communicate well with the police, we should take responsibility for that. They were probably worried things would get out of hand.

"The event was on the verge of cancellation," Wang acknowledged, after a contract with a security team fell through.

But at the last minute, she lined up MJ Norton Security Inc. of Chicopee, which fielded a staff of 10 for the mid-September weekend. "Everything went very well," Michael Drolet, the firm's field operations supervisor, told The Eagle at the time.

Before her recent visit to her native China, Wang said, she met briefly with Police Chief Stephen O'Brien.

Sayers has also briefed the chief on preliminary plans.

"We met and I outlined our expectations of what needs to happen for a safe and orderly event," O'Brien told The Eagle recently. "When those expectations are fulfilled, we will be confident it is a secure environment for everyone to enjoy."

Wang emphasized that Sayers must provide security. He said he has a contract with MJ Norton Security for this summer's concert.

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She also pointed out that an August yoga festival attracting about 600 people has been held for the past four years with multiple stages of music. "It has been very peaceful," she said, "so maybe the town is getting used to what we do here."

The five-day yoga festival is scheduled to return this summer, starting Aug. 5. Wang and Sayers are seeking local sponsors for the concert from the business community.

The stage will be built at the foot

of a substantial hill that can easily accommodate the anticipated thousands of concertgoers, she said.

"If this can work, it would be a wonderful thing for the town," said Wang, because she expects many of those attending would stay at area hotels and Airbnb short-term rentals.

Under her agreement with Sayers, half of the festival's net proceeds, primarily from sponsorships, would be paid to Eastover, and he is required to line up his own sponsors to pay for expenses, including fees for the bands.

Half of the combined net proceeds from sponsorships and ticket sales will go to Eastover, Sayers said, adding that he will donate half of his share to organizations in Western Massachusetts helping the opioid epidemic. The other half of his cut, Sayers added, will fund the launch of another festival for summer 2021.

"At the end, I don't think there's going to be too much money coming to us," Wang conceded, depending on Eastover's ability to attract sponsors.

"I'm not used to asking money from other people, so I have no experience with this," she said. "But I hope that during the 10 years we've been here, we definitely benefited a lot of local businesses. I would like to approach them to see if they would be willing to help out, like construction supply companies that have tremendously benefited from us."

"The first time was a learning curve," she said of the 2012 event, "and this time I will make sure that contracts with security and EMS companies are signed and that there are funds to pay for them."

Eastover has an entertainment license for live music, Wang said, as well as a camping permit and a liquor license. An additional permit may be needed for the stage, she said. Vendors will be invited to sell any products, such as CBD oil, that go well with a festival, Wang noted.

And, if this summer's festival is successful, she said, "it's Sayers' desire to make this an annual event."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.

FACTBOX:

If You Go . . .

What: Berkshirestock Festival 2, midsummer music weekend featuring heavy metal, Southern rock and other rock bands.

When: July 25-26.

Where: Eastover Estate and Eco-Village, 430 East St., Lenox.

How: Tickets at $100 for the two-day weekend, including camping, or $50 for one day, online at https://www.universe.com/events/berkshirestock-festival-2-tickets-2FCRH4.


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