Application for Return of Camp Bisco to Schenectady County Denied
This week in a 22-page letter, the return of Camp Bisco to Schenectady County was denied by county officials. Bisco’s new festival organizer Ken Hays, founders of Gathering of the Vibes attempts to “redefine the festival in terms of crowd demographics and safety” were shot down in the letter citing specific concerns in regards to traffic control, emergency evacuations and drug use.
Sheriff Dominic Dagostino stated in the letter, “Camp Bisco has failed to create a zero-tolerance policy towards drug use in the past. The applicant has not provided any evidence that the proposed 2015 event would mitigate this very serious issue which imperils the health and welfare of the residents and visitors of Schenectady County.”
[box]It is a shame that the local government and residents are not giving a promoter, who is genuinely attempting to make substantial fundemental changes to the manner in which the festival is run, a fair shake. – Greg Sarafan [/box]
Residents of Schenectady County have expressed concerns over drug-use in their community during Bisco weekend due to tragedies that have occurred in the past. In 2012, a festival attendee suffered a massive seizure leading her to a state of coma. A lawsuit was filed the following year claiming the emergency responders on-site may have had difficulty getting to the woman in a timely manner. Residents also correlate the name Camp Bisco with the tragic death of a staff member found in his tent dead of apparent drug overdose before the festival opened its gates.
Hays, having over 20 years experience organizing large festivals reportedly received the go-ahead from state police, the Department of Health and the Department of Transportation to bring Camp Bisco back to Schenectady County. Yet, it is the county proposing many changes to the application prior to re-submission. County officials gave specific guidelines for Hays’ re-submission including a contractual agreement with law enforcement agencies allowing 20 officers to control traffic and 50 officers to patrol the grounds 24 hours a day. Additional guidelines include the use of drug-sniffing dogs at the festival gates upon entry and a mechanism to shelter attendees in case of severe weather.
The current fate of returning Camp Bisco to Schenectady County remains in limbo. Potter and Hays have publicly discussed their plans to reinvent the July gathering stating, “We made a deliberate effort to contract with bands that typically bring an older demographic. We’ve been working with Disco Biscuits for 15-plus years, and they’ve played Gathering of the Vibes many times. I felt that this event could move forward once we’ve addressed the issues the local community has because people should have the opportunity to gather with friends and family on a beautiful piece of land in Mariaville.”
Currently, it is unclear what approvals have been made with officials of the town of Duanesburg. The one thing that is clear is that the festival promoters value safety above all. Hays said, “Safety is paramount to all parties involved. We have contracted with Albany Medical Center to have a minimum of three physicians on-site and to have an on-site field hospital. We’ve gone far beyond the state-required regulations as they apply to emergency management and keeping everyone safe.” The location of Camp Bisco remains in questions at this time.
We hope that county officials will reconsider their decision in light of what appears to be Ken Hays’ sincere attempts to put health and safety first.