December 19, 2014

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Lorain officials say Roverfest was success

T-Pain performs at Black River Landing during Roverfest as an audience member crowd-surfs near the stage. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

T-Pain performs at Black River Landing during Roverfest as an audience member crowd-surfs near the stage. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

By Anna Merriman and Lisa Roberson
Chronicle-Telegram Staff

LORAIN — The largest crowd Black River Landing has ever seen — about 15,000 people — poured into the venue on Saturday from across the state for Roverfest, an annual Cleveland-based concert.

However, despite the crowd — and brief bouts of rain — city officials said the event went off almost without a hitch.

“It was a very peaceful night. The community is going to be very pleased,” said Ralph Breuning, facilities manager for the Lorain Port Authority, which owns and operates Black River Landing. He added that the success of the concert means Black River Landing may host more large events, bringing more people into the city.

“This is a stepping stone for us to hopefully bring in more national acts,” Breuning said.

Roverfest is hosted by Cleveland radio show Rover’s Morning Glory. Lorain hosted the event for the first time Saturday.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said last week that parking could be an issue, adding that the crowd Roverfest would bring in surpassed anything Lorain has seen in years.

“The crowd was huge. I’ve never seen Black River Landing that filled,” he said Saturday.

Police boosted security Saturday with about 50 officers at Black River Landing, accompanied by security officials provided by Roverfest. They reported no major incidents Saturday.

However, they weren’t immune to the occasional fight and some injuries.

Shawn Hanzel, 39, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jeremy Easton, 33, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct; and Daniel Robinson, 26, was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of official business and disorderly conduct.

Additionally, about 50 people were treated at the concert by LifeCare for injuries and alcohol-related incidents, LifeCare spokesman Herb de la Porte said. Six others were transported to a hospital, including two to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland for head injuries from falling and from dancing near the stage.

“We expected some of those things to happen,” Ritenauer said of the few arrests Saturday. “Police had a good plan in place to handle it.”

The success of the concert may bode well for the future of Lorain, Breuning and Ritenauer said.

“It illustrated the fact that the city of Lorain can handle events of that size and magnitude,” Ritenauer said.

Many concertgoers, who came from around the state, expressed a similar sentiment.

“I came for the atmosphere and not the music, and this place is great,” said 21-year-old Dylan Holt, of Solon. “I don’t come out to Lorain and I’ve never been here, but I think it’s a great venue.”

Black River Landing, one block east of Broadway in downtown Lorain, is the location for many local and family-oriented events, such as the International Festival and the annual Labor Day celebration.

Though this was the first time an event of Roverfest’s magnitude took place at Black River Landing, many attendees couldn’t believe that was the case.

“I can’t tell they don’t use this place. It’s well laid out and really very nice,” said Jerrod Fair, 21, also of Solon.

Joe Benz, 36, of Cleveland, said he doesn’t listen to Rover’s syndicated show, but was encouraged to attend Roverfest with friends. He said he would return if it was held in future years.

“There are a lot of interesting people in this place for sure,” he said.

Breuning said he and other city officials will meet to discuss what to “tweak” before the next big concert, but for now, he’s pleased with what Roverfest has done for Lorain.

“We made a really big step today,” he said.

CContact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerrimanContact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.