Here are 10 takeaways from Beach Road Weekend while it’s fresh in our minds.
Epstein was everywhere. Adam Epstein was committed to making Beach Road Weekend a success, and showed true leadership in the process. He attended dozens of meetings, both formal selectmen’s meetings and planning sessions with department heads. He provided neighbors with his personal cell and email. He was responsive to criticisms and open to making changes asked for by the town. He lives and owns property here in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown. He was invested. But the ultimate test was the product. He delivered.
Yes, there was traffic. There’s always traffic on an August weekend. But it was no worse than any other August weekend. The Tisbury Police Department did a good job keeping things flowing and keeping people off the streets they closed. If anything, the folks of Causeway Road and Skiff Avenue may have gotten a little respite from the folks who use their streets to avoid traffic.
Booze problems never materialized. There were three people taken into protective custody during the weekend — and one of them was stopped before he even entered Veterans Memorial Park. That’s amazing and a tribute to both J.B. Blau’s staff and the Tisbury Police, who were keeping a watchful eye. There were people who complained about wristbands providing an eight-drink limit, saying it was too many drinks. But keep in mind, restaurants have no limits on the amount they serve a patron. It’s up to their discretion based on training, because overserving is against the law and jeopardizes their license. We’d like to see the wristbands dropped as an arbitrary way to keep score.
Let the masses get closer. There was too much seating set aside for VIPS and beach chairs for rent. People want to be able to dance, and they want to get close to the stage at festivals. The musicians thrive on looking out and seeing people react to their music.
Magical sound. We need a way to get the Cape Symphony Orchestra over to the Island more often. As conductor Jung-Ho Pak told The Times before Friday’s event, the Cape Symphony is the orchestra of the Cape and Islands. Well, we want our share! The music during the “Jaws” event was flawless and magical, a treat for the ears.
Lost opportunity. It was truly sad to pass yellow bus after yellow bus with “Plymouth” written on the side of it. Martha’s Vineyard schools made a costly mistake by not giving this festival a chance. We’d like to see someone in school leadership admit the mistake and see if Epstein will reconsider for future events.
The grass was dry. There were three days of nearly perfect weather. Sun and low humidity with a sometimes stiff breeze. But even after the rain earlier in the week during setup, the grass of Veterans Memorial Park dried out quickly. Turns out the field has sprinklers that go on every morning, and that may have contributed to people’s swampy views of the park leading up to the event. They turned them off.
What a transformation. At times during the festival, it felt like we were somewhere else. (And, no, we hadn’t used all of our eight drinks.) The park was transformed into a fun festival atmosphere, and we particularly enjoyed the work of artist Jack Yuen, an MVRHS graduate.
Change the date. August is robust with activity, while July lacks the big-event vibe after the Fourth. So make Beach Road Weekend a signature July event.
Make a decision early. We’d never say never, but we do wonder how selectmen could say no to giving Epstein a second chance. The town is going through an internal review, and will reach out to stakeholders like abutters and businesses for feedback. It’s important to do that to see if any adjustments need to be made. But don’t drag it out. Give Epstein a full year to secure next year’s lineup.