December 19, 2014

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Lorain gears up for Roverfest

LORAIN — Mayor Chase Ritenauer is fully aware of concerns over potential rowdiness and other problems Roverfest 2014 could bring to the downtown area.

But he believes the community needs to be open-minded when it comes to such events and their possible long-term benefits.

“I hope we can be part of a successful event that leads to opening ourselves up to others sponsored by Live Nation or Clear Channel,” Ritenauer said. “A lot of people want to see more events downtown.”

Live Nation and Clear Channel are entertainment promoters that stage major rock and pop concerts, among other live events.

Set for July 26, the festival will run 1 p.m. to midnight at Black River Landing. It will feature rock bands P.O.D. and Trapt, along with hip-hop artists T-Pain and Lil’ Jon.

The riverside setting will include food and drink vendors that will sell alcohol, which has concerned some including the Charleston Village Society, a group that works to promote and preserve the city’s oldest neighborhood in and near downtown.

The group has expressed concerns about security and parking near Black River Landing, as well as the landscaped area around Settler’s Watch west of City Hall, which includes monuments to area military veterans.

Roverfest is projected to attract 15,000 people, most in their late teens, 20s and 30s.

The festival is the brainchild of Shane “Rover” French, host of “Rover’s Morning Glory” radio show heard on 100.7 WMMS-FM in Cleveland — where the event was held for six years before this summer’s move to Lorain.

Charleston Village Society co-chairwoman Loraine Ritchey said in a statement Tuesday that the group has reservations about parking and overflow crowds of people who come to town with no festival tickets.

“I hope the ‘exposure’ is a positive one for the city, and that is the only exposures we have to deal with considering the marketing of the event,” Ritchey said, referring to the festival’s advertising that includes images of scantily-clad women. “The bar has been set low, but we will see.”

French said by phone Tuesday that he had spoken with Ritchey about the group’s concerns.

“I let her know where we are coming from, and that we are going to work with them to address any concerns,” French said. “I anticipate a smooth and very successful event.

“We’ve had literally hundreds of emails. There’s a big level of excitement from the area,” he said.

City officials are awaiting a final site plan from promoters of Roverfest spelling out specific locations for food and beverage vendors.

That data will help officials plan where to station police and private security personnel, especially for vendors selling alcohol, Lorain Port Authority Director Rick Novak said.

The city is working to ensure it will have adequate police and emergency personnel in place, Ritenauer said.

Roverfest promoters have visited Black River Landing several times. “They are doing their homework,” Novak said.

French agreed that providing adequate parking for the thousands of out-of-towners expected to visit Lorain does pose a potential headache.

“It’s a fantastic location, but parking could be a problem,” French said.

He and other festival planners expect to meet this week with city officials to discuss the issue.

Ritenauer said being able to attract nationally known bands or other big entertainers isn’t a farfetched goal.

“You look at the back of (concert tour) T-shirts and the names of some towns are not big cities. They’ve made a niche for being a stop on such tours,’’ he said.

French said he is aware that this event could set the stage for future events for the city.

“I know the city is eager to show they are able to host large events successfully,” French said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.