GHENT–Word of a “European Style” heavy metal concert in the planning stages for July 15 to 18 at Meadowgreens has gotten a lot of play in some Columbia County circles this week.
Meadowgreens, a restaurant, bar and banquet hall with a golf course on Route 9H, is owned by Carmen Nero. The building burned down January 21, but a website with the name of the resort posted news of the event April 22. In February Mr. Nero announced plans to build a new hilltop hotel.
The website, which appears to misspell the name of the resort, has a link to the concert’s website (tmtmetalfest.com), which includes a poster naming some of the bands expected to perform. That level of detail may leave those who live nearby wondering whether to buy tickets, to lay in a supply of ear plugs or schedule a vacation that weekend.
But it turns out the festival is still in the planning stage in spite of what promoters say online. “TMT Metal Fest is being held on a 300-acre Resort with camping and plenty of room for a huge concession area,” says an “update” on the festival site. TMT stands for Total Metal Television and among the more eye-catching names of prospective performers are Scum of the Earth, United Hate and Eyes of the Dead. Gracing the poster is a large photo of Metal Sanaz (pronounced SAHN-oz), a heavy metal personality whose Facebook metal rock blog boasts over 70 million visitors.
How likely is it the festival will go on as planned? “It’s not a sure thing, but it might happen,” said Gilbert Raab, Ghent’s zoning enforcement officer. “This is only a twinkling in somebody’s eye at this point,” he said.
Mr. Raab told The Columbia Paper that Ghent has no zoning ordinance or mass gathering law on its books. Other agencies, including the county Health Department, the county engineer, the Sheriff’s Office and state Health and Transportation departments have jurisdiction over the event, he said.
The site was used in recent years for the Celtic Festival, although that was mostly a daytime event.
As with any large gathering, the major issues promoters will have to resolve include crowd control, hygiene and law enforcement, said Ghent Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Walters.
Ken Flood, Columbia County’s Commissioner of Economic Development, said he was approached by Kenneth Randeze earlier this spring. The promoter was looking for a site for his music festival and expressed interest in either the Columbia County Fair Grounds or Lebanon Valley Speedway. Mr. Flood told him the fairgrounds were unsuitable and referred him to Lebanon Speedway owner Howard Commander. Mr. Commander does not have a camping permit for his business (see Page 3).
“I said I knew of no other suitable site, but a week and a half later, he said that he was interested in Meadowgreens. I said it was not a suitable site because of the airport and traffic,” said Mr. Flood. Meadowgreens is adjacent to the Columbia County Airport.
Mr. Flood said he could not imagine an appropriate site in Columbia County for the festival “because of the noise and the numbers of people involved and the difficulty providing security and medical services.”
He said that the festival expects to attract some 5,000 music fans and that bands would be performing until 1 a.m. He said the event would probably have very little economic impact on the county.
“This was a complete surprise,” said Dean Knox, director of Columbia County’s Engineering Division, who said that an event so close to the airport might be problematic. “We’re in the very early stages of learning about this thing,” he said.
A spokesperson at the county Department of Health said that the festival has not yet applied for a permit, which would involve complying with the state sanitary code for things like portable toilets, garbage collection, water sources, crowd control and emergency services.
Precedents for music festivals in Columbia County include Falcon Ridge formerly held at Long Hill Farm in Hillsdale, and now operating at Dodds Farm on Route 22. That festival has attracted close to 15,000 people during a run of 3 days. The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival moved to Greene County when the farm where it was held was sold.
Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer met concert promoter Kenneth Randeze through a business contact, and Mr. Baer believes that the concert will happen. “He reached out to me. I put him in touch with various agencies,” said Mr. Baer. “I’m a big promoter of tourism, and these types of concerts I think are very good for the economy.” He said he sees the event boosting tourism. “It sounds like they have a good handle on the situation.”
Mr. Randeze said in a phone interview that he is two months behind schedule on the site because a site near Syracuse had fallen through, as had discussions with the speedway. With the late start, he said it’s unlikely that this concert will be another Woodstock, and he confirmed the estimate of the crowd at around 5,000 or fewer people per day. He said he plans to operate shuttle buses between the Hudson Amtrak station and the concert site.
Asked about all the planning required for the event, Mr. Randeze said, “Our basic methodology is to do it right, so everybody’s satisfied. I want to see a nice event, with great entertainment for everybody’s benefit.”
Mr. Randeze said that the bands he has scheduled include a range of new talent, headliners and opening acts. He has proposed a charity balloon rally held at the airport scheduled for the same weekend to raise money for local schools, parks, and libraries, and liked Meadowgreens’ owner Carmine Nero’s idea of getting a local fire department to grill chicken for concert goers, as a fund raiser.
“I want nothing more than to give back to the community,” said Mr. Randeze, 41, who says he started playing guitar at age five and piano at age three. He said he has 6 children ranging in age from 8 to 24, and he lives in Pennsylvania. Before he became a producer he performed and recorded his own music.
As for the heavy metal genre of music, he said, “It’s spiritual…an understanding of mortality.”