In a report to his fellow county commissioners during their Sept. 3 regular meeting, Commissioner Keith Baker outlined a generally-incident-free Seven Peaks Music Festival event, with only four arrests for some minor incidents, and an EMT staff with not much to do. Although the county and the town of Buena Vista still found themselves dealing with some traffic and parking issues. The result of moving thousands of people around a small town, the event was termed an overall success.

Violations of the law extended beyond traffic, minor fistfights and parking violations. Country music singer and songwriter Dierks Bentley, one of the Seven Peaks Music Festival’s headliners, was cited for fishing without a license on the festival grounds.

Dierks Bentley greets fans at the 2018 Seven Peaks Music Festival. (Photo courtesy Rolling Stone)

Bentley (or his friends) had posted a photo of the fish he caught on social media, where Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) noticed it. CPW checked to see if he had a license and issued him a citation. Bentley admitted to not having a license and promptly paid the fine.

“He owned it,” said Commissioner Greg Felt. “He was complimented by Parks & Wildlife for how he handled it and [paid the fine.]”

Baker said that on Thursday night, “There were problems along Steel [Street] and Gregg Drive. I had calls from businesses suffering from the back-ups. There were inadequate flaggers at [CR] 337 and [CR] 361. The folks at Live Nation told me some of their off-site security and traffic coordination were short-staffed…but the local police department were great. They owned the traffic and parking issues, and I can’t say enough about Jon Roorda’s work.”

On Thursday night, with campers arriving earlier than check-in allowed. Baker said that the town of Buena Vista and the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department made a quick decision to send the early arrivals out to the rodeo grounds. “Next year there should be pre-arranged times to check-in and arrive,” said Baker. He compared such a system to check-in tickets for boarding a ferry. “If there is a possibility of a Thursday opening, I’d imagine Live Nation [the event organizer] could put a premium price on this.”

Baker went on to describe some parking issues along CR 330 on a section where no-parking signs weren’t placed along the northern part. “The access road coming from the south – you get to [CR] 331, it turns to the west. So 330 goes north, and there was about a 25-yard segment where they run together … So 330 had no-parking signs, but if we had some orange cones we could have [covered it].

He went on to describe a section where cars were dropping off passengers, noting that the bike-pedestrian entrance on Crossman was late getting open. “We got it open – but the fence was being torn down over a 20 to 30-meter length.”

Whiskey Row, named for Dierks Bentley’s gastropubs, is the second stage for the festival. (Ark Valley Voice file photo)

Commissioners discussed the overall event atmosphere. Baker described some trespassing issues on Waters Street on Friday, with some event-goers driving around barricades, in one case driving across a residential lawn.

Saturday night, there were some noise complaints, which were resolved before Sunday.

“They put Whiskey Row up on the mesa [to the west] this year, so it was louder,” said Baker. “There appeared to be some dueling sound between that and the main stage. If a band was mellow– say like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – you could hear the tent over the main stage. The noise from ‘The Beach’ was pretty loud in my neighborhood, and we heard something around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. It appeared to be loud reports like fireworks, but we don’t know what it was.”

Overall, he concluded, the crowd had a good time with four alcohol-related arrests for what he termed “minor to mid-minor fights.”

“There were lots of locals there,” added Felt. “We don’t have a number on crowd size, but based on ticket sales, we’d say there were 40 to 50 percent more tickets [sold] than last year. I’m guessing maybe 12,000 to 15,000. The state Liquor Board representative said we can compel them to give us the counts.”