Beach Road Weekend called a ‘success’

Festival didn’t make money, but promoter hopes it made fans.

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Updated August 13

Three days of sunshine. Three incidents of public drunkenness over three days. No injuries. Thousands of smiling faces.

Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment, is declaring success for Beach Road Weekend. Not financially, but in setting the groundwork of what he hopes will become an annual event. The three-day crowd was estimated at 15,000 people.

“We knew we were under a microscope; actually we were under a magnifying glass under the sun,” Epstein said Monday. If anything went wrong, it would be on Beach Road Weekend, and he knew it.

Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio said three people were taken into protective custody (PC) for public intoxication, one of them just near the concert venue. That was the extent of any issues during the festival, he said.

“In general, it went terrific,” Saloio said. “To have three PCs, that was just an incredibly safe weekend. The staff did a phenomenal job. It was great to hear compliments, but as good as the staff was, the people who attended the festival were good and decent people. That’s just as much a reason why it went so smoothly.”

Saloio said traffic was not any different than a typical summer weekend at Five Corners. “It really went well. I’m very pleased,” he said. “There was a good feeling in there. People enjoyed themselves. When everything was said and done, it was a safe event. That’s what I was looking for.”

To Epstein, the measure of success wasn’t in dollars. “Not even close,” Epstein said, taking a moment away from an interview to write a check for one of the vendors. “It’s like building a hotel or a restaurant. To think you’re going to open and make money in the first three days is ridiculous.”

The idea was to create an experience that got people talking, Epstein said. On social media, the narrative shifted from “what were you thinking” to “that was awesome.”

“My wife, Mandy, pointed out that people are talking about how much fun they had. They weren’t even talking about the bands,” Epstein said. “We couldn’t do it without the bands, of course, but that experience is what we wanted to deliver.”

It’s one thing to call it a success internally, but Epstein has to convince the board of selectmen it was a success in order to do it again. Melinda Loberg, chair of the board of selectmen, attended two days of the festival, and was happy with the event. Town leaders are going to do an internal review reaching out to neighbors and businesses to get their feedback, but the initial reports are positive, she said.

“At the end of the night [Sunday], I spoke to both chiefs who were there watching things. They were extremely pleased with how smoothly it went, and how few problems there were and how streamlined the organization was for the festival,” Loberg said.

Loberg said she personally heard only one complaint, and it was about noise. “Depending on which way the wind was blowing, the volume went in certain directions,” she said.

The public reaction she witnessed at the event was all positive. “One thing that we feel is a good takeaway on the first blush and that is that we have the capacity to do this — our town, our staff. They can all handle this. They have professionalism. That was gratifying to know. It was all hands on deck. Every staff member. Everyone really chipped in.”

Seth Gambino, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for selectman in April in part on his opposition to the festival, hung up the phone when he was asked to comment on the event.

“It was an amazing event. The concert itself was put together with professionalism, not only by Adam Epstein and Innovation Arts & Entertainment, but the department heads for the town of Tisbury,” selectman Jeff Kristal, who ran against Gambino, said. “It exceeded my expectations. This is something that Vineyard Haven and Tisbury should be proud of. People enjoyed themselves immensely, and want to do it again.”

The initial reaction from the business community is positive, too. Sarah York, manager of CB Stark and head of the Vineyard Haven Business Association, said she’s spoken to several business owners who were thrilled with the residual foot traffic to their businesses. “The Green Room had an increase in business they directly attribute to to Beach Road. People came in saying they were here for the festival,” York said. “Waterside Market had one of their top five days ever.” 

York, who also lives in Vineyard Haven, said she traveled through Five Corners several times during the festival and found it to be no busier than usual. She went to all three days, and said it rivaled experiences she had off-Island. “I’m personally very pleased. Adam did a wonderful job delivering on the promises he made to the town,” she said. “It was safe, clean, and the traffic was not crazy … They managed traffic better than festivals I’ve been to off-Island.”

Marinko Vukota, who lives on State Road not far from the field, praised the event. “I feel like the majority of the comments I’ve seen on social media,” Vukota told The Times. “We walked in both Saturday and Sunday. I was very impressed with the venue and how well they seemed to be organized. The food was great and I felt everything was reasonably priced. Loved John Fogerty, and Grace Potter kicked Sunday.”

After a visit to Norton Point, Vukota said she returned home, faced no traffic, and went back to the festival. “So all-in-all, if I had to score on a scale of 1-10, a well-deserved 9.”

Epstein is hopeful selectmen will conclude they want to do this again. It took a lot of work to secure offsite parking (the money going to charities), hire a company for bus shuttle service, and all of the other vendors. But now that Epstein has successfully worked with them, he says he’ll do it again. 

“I’m loyal to people who take a chance on me. We honor the investment people make in us,” he said. Now instead of making dozens of visits, he’ll be able to make one call to secure vendors, he said.

J.B. Blau, owner of several Island restaurants managed the alcohol sales for Beach Road Weekend, said there was one word to describe the event: “Surreal.” He said it’s amazing what Epstein and his staff were able to pull off.

In the coming days, Epstein will work out some of the areas where he doesn’t have to spend as much. For example, he spent $275,000 in branding Beach Road Weekend — some of it worked, some of it didn’t, he said. “We lost money, but next year we’ll know what we don’t need,” he said.

Epstein and his team posed for a photograph in front of the Beach Road sign created by artist Jack Yuen. It was a quick respite and then back to work. Epstein is facing another deadline. Getting as much off the field before a deluge of rain hits Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night.

Asked how long it would take to do the dismantling, Epstein chuckled: “C’mon.”

Updated with more comments about the festival.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Not for sale? Of course they are not. They are there for the benefit of all, and occasionally, as they do in other towns, the parks are made available for events which benefit the town and island. What the management of this event did, in a few short months is something to be admired. I suspect to get decent lineups event planners spend a year working on, and we got a fantastic lineups of performers which gave Vineyard Haven another thing to take pride in. Hopefully, the organizers of this event will see that this festival can grow in popularity, and is something to build upon – I know not a single attendee who didn’t marvel at the A1 organizing of this event. Thanks to all for making this happen, and please start soon for a 2020 lineup. This all said, I’d love to see this festival moved to mid July. Too many things happening in August – give people a reason to take the boat across in July!!!!

    • Low key family friendly yes, I agree, clean and well organized yes that too, for a small crowd which did not make money! Come on once the promoter’s foot is in the door the event will grow and with more people cleanliness will suffer, family friendly with more head line groups I doubt it. Bravo for what hosting an event that loses money and is only a Trojan Horse to obtain an automatic event license and liquor license every year from Tisbury’s board of select people.

        • Like I said yes safe and fun for a small crowd and it was small, to make money it will have to be many times larger I know from experience. There are so many great venues that have on site parking and hold over three thousand people. The high school fields were used back in the eighties for some great concerts went to two and the school made money on the parking…hmmm just a thought. Maybe you remember when John Kerry our Jr.Senator came to the island to speak about the plight of the whales at a concert.

      • Teehump, our drop counts showed there were over 4500 people there on Saturday and over 5000 on Sunday. How does that qualify as a small event? Were you there counting people? Did you do it at noon or did you do it at 8:15pm?

        Besides the high school, which won’t host events like this on their field anymore (since the failed Nectarfest), please share your thoughts on the other options.

        • Adam Epstein, a have a couple or more questions
          1. using your numbers 4500 and 5000 and it has been reported you made no profit how many people do you need comming over from the cape to make money?
          2. how much money are you paying Tisbury for the rental off the park and the ability to restrict some road usage
          3. I know the high school doesn’t allow liquor sales on its property but if you could hold an event without selling liquor and with your history of well run events I am sure you would be welcome although people from off island to an event would have to be bused. Is it one of the reasons I just listed that would keep you from approaching the high school?

      • Hump, so you are complaining about events that have yet to happen based on contingencies that likewise have never occurred? “Some times a Trojan Horse is a Trojan Horse.” I agree with you that sometimes a tautology is appropriate, because sometimes a concert is just a concert.

  2. I hope in next year’s planning that the men’s and women’s Softball leagues will be consulted and considered in the dates of the event. The main field they all play on is unplayable for this year’s playoffs and championships. They all pay to play there. Don’t forget the soccer players either. Glad it is being hailed as a success. Maybe the last week in August?

  3. nice that it went well- Kudos to all the hard working smart people who pulled it off.
    But i have a few questions– who got the $30 a pop to park at the Tisbury school ?
    isn’t that a public parking lot ?
    Second– when are they going to remove the big cardboard boxes they used as signs ?

  4. just a couple of comments, first the promoter knew there was no chance of walking away with a profit from this. Is that so bad?
    If you had the ability to work on a project you loved would you only do it if it made money?
    Most businesses do not make money the first couple of years until they establish themselves.
    Saying it is a trojan horse is purely complaining for the sake of complaining. of course he will try to have the event next year, we all knew that it is not a secret.
    why wouldn’t Adam have the event next year if the town would let him do it.
    Second, there was quite a bit of equipment, and labor spent on protecting the field.
    The baseball field was covered by the same type of ground cover used at Gillette stadium to protect the grass during concerts and events. After this rainstorm and the sun, the grass will return
    And the naysayers will have to move to some other thing to complain about

  5. Everyone, step away from the computer and take a stroll out to Vets Park. You’ll find that the ground cover ensured the field is playable now, once it dries from yesterday’s rain. We also got the entire field re-seeded using the native seed already using in the park in order to enhance what was already growing. the areas that were not covered are already coming back now that they’ve been re-hydrated.

  6. Why is Seth hanging up on people who want to hear his opinion? Would he do the same thing if he were a Selectmen? Seems like, if you are in a position of leadership, or want to lead, that you have to be accountable for your decisions and able to articulate a fact based assessment afterward. Why would he avoid that opportunity to demonstrate leadership and engage with us to improve upon something that engaged so many in a fun and safe way?

  7. Wait…He can hang up on people because he’s not a Selectmen? Not only is it rude on a personal level, but he was not shy about sharing his opinion, often at top volume, with anyone who openly advocated for the festival, in any forum. This included at Selectmen meetings, or yelling at me outside a Conservation Committee hearing after I had successfully presented our plans for how to protect the wetlands around the Park.

    Seems to me, that if he wants to serve Tisbury in any public fashion, on committee or BOS, that he needs to accept that he’s accountable for his advocacy of any political position.

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s advocating for renovation over replacement of the Tisbury School, the hyperbolic fear mongering about the effect of selling alcohol in restaurants, or the screaming at the Selectmen for their position on the festival. When his position has been proven wrong through a fact based analysis, he hides, and then chooses another policy or proposal to attack, seemingly to distract from his last bad idea.

    What will it take for Mr Gambino to own up to his advocacy for policies that have led to kids having to go to a school and teachers having to teach in a building with mold, and asbestos?

    I think it’s time that we look to people who have proven dedication to public service as our models for leadership, not the Not-In-My-Backyard crowd.

    • I’m a supporter of this event, and I have been since I heard Mr. Epstein bring to Selectmen oh-so-many months ago now. I heard Mr. Gambino advocate against it at that same meeting, but I felt that the positives outweighed the negatives. I think it’s FANTASTIC for a town that needs revenue for big-ticket expenditures like Tisbury to get this or any additional funding, however small. Indeed, I’d call it a lucky break. I’ve been discussing how Adam seemed to take criticism in his stride and approached people with a positive, problem-solving demeanor. However, this is the first miss-step I’ve heard Adam make.

      If Seth is not an elected or appointed a representative of the town, he’s under no obligation to discuss this with Adam or anyone else and had every right to share his thoughts at a Selectmen’s meeting. Manners are not mandatory (although they are nice!), and the only “accountability” Seth should have for his advocacy (ignoring for a moment that Seth not wanting this to happen is not a “political position,” as you state) is at the ballot box. If/when Seth runs again, people can choose to remember him vocalizing about this and it might sway their votes. He doesn’t owe you, me, or anyone else an explanation… and tying it to the school debacle? Poor form. This event and Seth’s advocacy against it had zero to do with the state of the Tisbury School and will have near-zero impact on the budget to fix it. While I completely support this event in the future and would argue that Adam’s been about as ideal an organizer as the town could have asked for, this feels petty. It’s beneath you.