Memo-08-09-2016-Item 13

August 9, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Presentation – Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival

I have scheduled time on the Board’s August 9 meeting agenda for the Board to receive a presentation from Alesia Sanderson, Parks & Recreation Director, about the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival.  The new festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 27 from 11 am – 5:30 pm on the beach strand at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  I have scheduled this item for two main reasons:  1) to update the Board and the community on the details of the event to hopefully inspire confidence that it will be produced in a quality, safe manner, and  2) to hopefully generate additional press about the event, which is now just a few weeks away.

Mayor Barber, Town staff, and volunteers have been working since this spring to make the “return of the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival” a reality this year.  The original festival ran for a 20-year period from 1979 – 1999, was held at the Holiday TravLPark, and generated crowds of 10,000 – 15,000 people in mid-May at its peak.  The original festival was a successful draw before the peak tourism season began, and in some ways, helped to “put Emerald Isle on the map”. 

Feedback received by the Town in recent years has suggested that  1) the Town should consider a high-profile special event in the fall months, and  2) the Town should conduct more events actually on the beach strand.  It is with this feedback in mind, and a desire to draw on the nostalgia of the original Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival, that the Town has pursued the production of the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival on August 27. 

We had originally sought to schedule the 2016 event for late September, however, many leading beach music acts were booked for that time period when serious planning efforts began in May of this year.  The weekend of August 27 was available for several leading performers, and is also the weekend right before school begins for 2016 – 2017.  That weekend is typically a less busy weekend in Emerald Isle, and we believe that scheduling the new festival for that weekend will achieve our goal to generate additional visitation in Emerald Isle on an otherwise less busy weekend.  Our goal for the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival is to achieve attendance of up to 10,000 for the 2016 “return”, and all planning efforts have been based on that goal.  Assuming a successful 2016 event, we will be seeking to schedule the 2017 festival for some time in September 2017.

As noted on the attached site plan, the musical acts will perform on a newly constructed platform on the dunes at the Western Ocean Regional Access, facing the ocean, with the majority of the crowd located on the beach strand (in accordance with the feedback noted above).  Spectators will also be able to congregate in the area of the volleyball courts.

Alesia Sanderson will provide additional detail at the August 9 meeting, however, I have summarized some of the key issues below:

Admission Cost:  The event is FREE to the public; there is no admission cost.

Musical Acts:  We have a great lineup planned, with 7 acts scheduled over a 6 – 7 hour time frame.  As noted on the attached flyer, the lineup includes beach music favorites from yesterday and today.

Stage:  A new wooden platform has been constructed specifically for the festival, and after the festival it will be used as an observation deck for patrons of the Western Ocean Regional Access, and perhaps for future EmeraldFest concerts.  A professional stage and sound system will be leased for festival, and will be placed on the new wooden platform, providing cover for the performers and presenting a professional appearance.

Movement of Spectators Between Beach and WORA Parking Area:  The main steps leading from the restroom and parking area to the beach strand will be closed, and will be incorporated into the stage.  The existing handicapped ramp walkway will remain open, and will be the primary travel corridor.  A temporary, sand path walkway, delineated with post-n-rope, will be established from the volleyball court area to the beach strand to provide an alternate pedestrian travel route between the beach strand and the parking area.

Alcohol:  The new festival will allow the consumption of beer and wine products on the beach strand itself, but not on the upland grounds of the WORA.  As is the case every day in Emerald Isle, beer and wine are permitted to be consumed on the beach strand, thus the day of the festival will be no different.  Spectators will be permitted to travel through the upland area of the WORA with coolers, etc., however, no consumption is permitted in the upland area.  The entire event is a “BYOB” event, and there will be no alcohol sales at the WORA. 

Parking:  Handicapped parking will be available at the Western Ocean Regional Access, however, no other parking is available at the WORA.  Attendees will be permitted to park in the NC 58 right of way, in an identical manner as the annual St. Patrick’s Festival parking.  We remain hopeful that many attendees will walk or ride bicycles to the new festival, by way of streets, bike path, and the beach strand.

Traffic:  Islander Drive, Louise Avenue, and Boardwalk Avenue will be designated for one-way traffic on the day of the festival to promote continuous flow of traffic.  Attendees may be dropped off at the corner of Islander Drive and Louise Avenue, and the driver may then park the vehicle on the NC 58 right of way.

Law Enforcement:  EIPD will implement an event operations plan for the new festival, and will be assisted by several other local law enforcement agencies, the State Highway Patrol, NC ALE officers, and the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.  Law enforcement will be dispersed among the crowd and through all areas of the WORA, and will be working hard to keep everyone safe, orderly, and legal.  A mobile detention unit staffed with a magistrate will be utilized at the event.

Emergency Medical Services:  EIFD and EI EMS will implement an event operations plan for the new festival, and will also be assisted by other local agencies.  Lifeguards will also be assigned to the beach strand.  Emergency vehicles and equipment will be staged in different locations to enable quick response, avoid traffic bottlenecks, and serve other areas of the Town.

Sponsorships:  This event would not be possible without the support of the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority, which has provided a $35,000 contribution to support the event.  Mayor Barber and volunteers have also secured nearly $12,000 in cash sponsorships from Emerald Isle businesses, and we greatly appreciate their support.  Transportation Impact is the presenting sponsor with a $3,000 contribution.  There are also other in-kind sponsorships for advertising and equipment. 

Food Vendors:  There are currently 5 food vendors tentatively lined up to operate in the parking area of the WORA.  We made a special effort to first reach out to Emerald Isle businesses, and then Carteret / Onslow food trucks, however, we did not receive the response that we had initially hoped for.  We continue to reach out to other food vendors in hopes of expanding the offerings at the festival.

Advertising:  Advertising has already begun on regional radio stations, and WITN 7 will also be running television advertisements.  This advertising is primarily in the form of in-kind sponsorships, and we have purchased additional print and digital advertising in the Raleigh market.  We also continue to promote the event through Town digital media, including website, email newsletter, Facebook, twitter, and the app.

T-Shirts:  Emerald Isle Business Association volunteers will be selling festival t-shirts from the gazebo at the WORA for $20 each.  We hope to sell 800 shirts.

Trash:  Public Works will relocate existing trash containers away from the stage area, and will reposition them on the beach strand.  Additional trash receptacles will also be provided, and Public Works staff will be available during the day to assist with trash removal.  Public Works will also be focused on cleanup after the event, with a goal to have the beach completely cleaned up that evening.

Insurance:  The Town’s general liability policy through the NC League of Municipalities will be in effect, as it is for all special events offered by the Town.  We are still considering purchasing an additional one-day event policy for additional protection, and also still considering purchasing an inclement weather policy.  Decisions on these issues will be made prior to August 12.  Although a large crowd, the beach environment, and alcohol consumption present potential for additional liability, it is important to note that, ultimately, the Town is simply providing a free concert on the beach strand.  The Town is not providing or offering any alcohol, and the same alcohol restrictions / allowances that apply everyday will be in effect on August 27.  Each attendee will be providing their own alcohol if desired, and will be making their own choices.  EIPD and our law enforcement partners will be enforcing all alcohol laws at the festival.

Weather:  Emergency personnel are preparing for excessive heat, and ice and water will be available as needed for emergency situations.  The biggest uncertainty, as always, is the impact of rain and/or wind.  The event is likely to go on as scheduled in the event of light and intermittent rain showers.  A more significant and prolonged rain event may result in cancellation.  Of course, we remain hopeful that no tropical storms or hurricanes will impact Emerald Isle that weekend.  If a tropical storm or hurricane is forecast, a decision to cancel would likely be made a day or two in advance.  If the event is cancelled, it will not be rescheduled for 2016.  Pray for a beautiful day!

Tides:  High tide on August 27 is forecast to occur at Bogue Inlet at approximately 4:30 pm.  We are hopeful that it will be a normal high tide, and not unusually high.  We expect to have ample room on the beach strand for the estimated attendance, however, an unusually high tide could result in some spectators standing in the wave run-up. 

Budget:  A copy of the event budget is attached, and the grand total is $61,000.  Other than Town personnel expenses associated with the event, there are no Town general tax revenues supporting the event.  We hope to realize a small surplus from the event, and any surplus generated will be reserved for the 2017 festival. 

We greatly appreciate the TDA funding and the generous sponsorships provided by area businesses to make this event a reality.  I also greatly appreciate the hard work of Town staff in planning for the event, in particular Alesia Sanderson’s efforts.  We are also fortunate to have great assistance from other members of the planning committee, and I am confident that everyone’s hard work will result in a high quality, successful event on August 27.  We remain hopeful that it will bring additional visitors to Emerald Isle that weekend and positively impact the local economy.  We are also hopeful that 2016 is just the beginning, and that the event will eventually grow into an annual fall staple in Emerald Isle.

Alesia Sanderson and I look forward to discussing the festival with the Board at the August 9 meeting.