Bacon festival not only Richmond event to catch heat

Posted at 8:42 PM, Jun 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-11 00:56:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Problems abound at recent festivals; from Shamrock the Block, Carytown Craft Beer Festival, to Dominion Riverrock, and now Richmond's first-ever Bacon Festival.

While these four recent events have brought huge crowds into the River City, organizers have had some issues too.

Shamrock the Block had a high profile arrest. Carytown Beer Festival brought out thousands, but there were numerous complaints. The organizers made a point on Facebook, amid numerous complaints, to say "expect improvement and changes next year."

At Riverrock, a man threw a bottle at the stage when Toots and the Maytals were performing. It struck musician Toots Hibbert in the head, and sent him to the hospital for stitches. The group later canceled the rest of their tour.

Then this weekend, thousands flooded into Shockoe Bottom in search of bacon.

"We had way too many people and that's not really a problem,” said Scott Poates, Owner, River City diner.

But we found many concerns on the Bacon Festival’s Facebook page, from people who attended the event saying they did encounter problems.  Complaints range from long lines and no parking, to vendors running out of food.

"I think when you come down here with the amount of people here, you should expect to wait a little while,” said Poates.

Organizers tell CBS 6, they expected 10,000 people to show up.  But they believe the crowd grew to roughly 15,000; who had to maneuver through two closed streets in the Farmer's Market.

"When we get together to talk about what we can do to improve on it,” said David Napier, President, Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association, “it will be to have a contingency plan to close more streets.”

"I think people enjoy the festivals,” he said.

Napier admits there have been problems with events in that area.  He said his group works closely with the city and festival organizers to offer ways to improve them and keep people coming back to the Bottom.

He believes that "even the ones that say they're not coming back…once they see our plan, they'll come back.”

“It's just too much fun, and the food was so good,” said Napier.

Napier told CBS 6 that there’s  a Shockoe Bottom meeting next Monday to brainstorm upcoming events.  He plans to suggest opening more streets, providing shuttle buses, and using outside parking decks.

Construction will begin later this year to redesign the Farmer’s Market by widening sidewalks and creating an open-air market.

According to city officials, it’s up to the event planner or organizer to follow the city’s rules and regulations.  The City of Richmond only provides the space or location for the event.

To hold an event on public property, you must obtain a Special Events Conditional Use Permit if your event meets any one following criteria:

  • Three-hundred or more people will participate.
  • It will be publicly advertised.
  • It will involve sales of food, beverages or merchandise.
  • It will make use of amplified sound, airborne objects, fireworks, or carnival-type attractions.
  • It will have an impact on streets, roads, right-of-ways or adjacent private property.

Applications for such a permit must be completed and submitted at least 45 days prior to your event.