CULLMAN, Ala. – On day one of the 2019 edition of Rock the South (RTS), there were loads of music and lots of opportunities for fun- as fans have come to expect from the massive festival- and new stories to accompany the new venue, including a record crowd that came out to see big stars Brooks & Dunn and headliner Kid Rock.
Massive turnout, massive traffic backup
The numbers are not in, but law enforcement officers onsite commented in the early evening that the 150-acre site appeared to be almost as crowded as the previous 15-acre site at Heritage Park had been. One estimated that the crowd was in excess of 30,000, and possibly could hit 50,000.
The huge turnout overwhelmed local roads leading to the venue, causing traffic to back up in multiple directions. One visitor commented that his trip from his home near Holly Pond had taken more than four and a half hours, three of it on less than 3 miles of roads between Cherokee Avenue and the event site along County Road 469. Another, coming from downtown Cullman, reported a travel time of more than three hours.
Look for a full story on traffic conditions leading into the venue.
Weather and site conditions: dusty!
The weather was great for late May: temperatures were plenty warm but not terribly hot, without a drop of rain. The real climate story was the dust. Within two hours of opening, furniture and equipment across the site had a heavy coating of reddish-brown dust. Increasing crowds late in the day stirred the dust until certain parts of the venue appeared to be covered in fog or haze.
Medical staff onsite- which included Cullman Fire Rescue, Cullman EMS, Good Hope and Bethsadia Fire Departments, and many others- reported that the number of medical incidents was typical of a day at RTS, making that number fairly light for the increased attendance. They reported no serious issues, with minor medical calls mostly related to effects of heat exhaustion and the dust.
Taking it in stride
Most visitors inside the venue didn’t seem to be overly troubled by the heat and dusty conditions. They came for music and a party, and got plenty of both, from the stage out to the vendors’ booths.
Here’s a sampling of a few fans’ comments to The Tribune:
“All the old country music reminds me of my childhood. My dad was in the army for 32 years, and listening to country music reminded me of him whenever he was deployed.”
“The DJ’s mixes and all this haze makes it feel like a rave with the world’s largest smoke machine. It’s literally like the biggest party in the South!”
“We have been coming to Rock the South for years, and each time it just gets more and more exciting! And it really helps out the folks around here too, not just all these big stars. (It) stimulates the economy, gives everyone something to look forward to; even the folks who live down this street can make a little money renting their lawns out for parking. I’m really excited to see how much this can grow with the new venue.”
Law enforcement: no major issues
Law enforcement officers reported that several visitors had been escorted out of the venue for disorderly conducted related to drunkenness and that a few people, including juveniles, had been caught outside the venue (which is county property and officially “dry”) with alcohol. Overall, though, they said that fans’ behavior had remained fairly good throughout the day, with no serious incidents.
RTS continues Saturday, with gates opening at noon.
- noon – gates open
- 3:15 p.m. – Tyler Braden
- 4:30 p.m. – Hardy
- 6:15 p.m.- Colt Ford
- 7:45 p.m. – Morgan Wallen
- 9:20 p.m.- Jake Owen
- 11 p.m. – Florida Georgia Line
Find out more at www.pepsirockthesouth.com.
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