#GLNRSumfest | Festival night one was largest ever - fire department
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Estimated as one of the largest crowds at Montego Bay’s Catherine Hall Complex, patrons at Friday night’s 27th instalment of Reggae Sumfest rivalled the population of a small city.
In fact, the St James Fire Department reported that the venue was at capacity by 2:30 a.m. with 12,000 to 15,000 people.
Joe Bogdanovich, managing director of festival owners Downsound Entertainment has tripled the standard that the festival had become known for.
The LED screens, stage and public address system are of the highest levels, at least two engineers stated.
“This is probably the highest level of production that has ever come into Catherine Hall, setting a new standard in production,” said one of them, who opted not to be named, adding that Bogdanovich is a stickler for world standard.
However, all was not well with hundreds of patrons who criticised the organisers for offering them a cattle track to accommodate general admission.
"Look how far VIP comes back, three quarters of the venue is taken up for VIP and VVIP, there is not even a screen to allow us to see from the general area," complained Lenworth Francis who has been attending the event for years.
Next to him, St Lucian Mary Octalian, who was attending the festival for the first time, said this would be her last.
"I planned my vacation for this, nine of us booked to come, but we will not be back, because I am so disappointed. It would have better if I had stayed home and watched the show online.”
Some persons queried safety and security issues in the crowded atmosphere, however, Robin Russell, head of security for the festival, sought to assure that all was well.
“There were no safety or security issues, no breaches at any time. We had over 70 security monitors, and the fire, health and the police, were constantly monitoring and assessing all exits and all equipment,” he said.
Russell admitted that it was the first in years that the venue has accommodated such a large turnout of patrons, and it was a good look for reggae.
“We were able to put on a festival that local and foreigners were able to enjoy,” he stated, adding that he sees future expansion of the venue.
“There is enough land to do so,” he explained.
The land is owned by the Urban Development Corporation.
However, Downsound Entertainment, owner of the festival, had to foot the bill to improve the aesthetics of the venue.