OH-Fest Makes Moves: And Says Goodbye to Downtown

Whitney Bashaw, Editor-in-Chief

Oh the times, they are a’changin’.

Neawha Park will no longer be home to the annual concert in the park that is OH-Fest. Citing untenable demands, the Oh-Fest Planning Committee has decided to remove their request for a permit for the park. The event instead will be moved to the college campuses, and so far indoors.
“We’re basically starting from scratch,” said Hartwick junior Danielle Freeland, who is a member of the Hartwick Campus Activities Board (H-CAB) and the OH-Fest Committee.

The committee, which comprises students from both Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta, decided to change plans and pull the request due to the common council of Oneonta’s new requests and restrictions upon the event. Of the demands, the city asked for a significant financial increase for security and clean-up, a hold-off of the park permit until the middle of the spring semester and the ability to veto choices of the band.

“The decision was not what we wanted, it’s not what we like but we were forced into this by factors beyond our control…we tried to meet demands and tried to compromise and we have tried every option we could try,” stated Freeland.

Mayor Dick Miller explained that the city wanted representation in the selection of the artist, as they were concerned about the language and environment. “Over time, increasing concerns from the community about the nature of the entertainment reached a crescendo this spring,” said Miller. Two members of the community would act as representatives and be a part of the selection process with the ability to vote down acts.

Last spring the popular rapper Pitbull headlined OH-Fest 6. Opening acts were Who’s Bad, a Michael Jackson cover band, and local metal band Sword of Truth.

“This only started after Pitbull, even though it was the biggest and cleanest show we’ve had in years,” said Oneonta senior Katie Lawrence, a member of CUAC and the OH-Fest committee.

“The community and common council took a strong position on that after last spring,” said Miller, “I think it’s too bad, this was a good event. I felt that we were trying to mediate between a very strong council position on the subject and the two student bodies. It’s unfortunate but it’s the students’ event and the students who are paying for it.”

Perhaps this dark cloud has a silver lining yet. Despite the change that will inevitably draw ire from all camps, the committee is optimistic about the event. They hope to take advantage of OH-Fest moving on-campus.

“It will be a chance for Hartwick and Oneonta students to get familiar with each others’ campuses, a way to unite the schools and work together,” said Lawrence, “we’re optimistic.” Both student bodies will have an opportunity to explore the other’s campus and, hopefully, foster communication and involvement between the two. The committee is hopeful this will build a new tradition that unites the schools.

Instead of the one day of events, OH-Fest will span seven days, dubbing the 2012 concert “7 Days of OH-Fest 7.” From Sunday to Thursday there will be medium-sized events and concerts alternating campuses; these events will be for students only. On Friday night, to kick off the weekend, there will either be a major comedian or concert.

Instead of the Main Street fair, one of the campuses will host a “big kid” carnival that is family friendly but geared toward students. Local vendors, downtown merchants and campus clubs are encouraged to set up booths. Saturday night will host another big concert or comedian. Community members are welcome to attend any and all of the weekend events.

Both CUAC and H-CAB plan on doing surveys to reach out to the campuses so students can have a significant say in the process. CUAC meets every Friday at 4 p.m. in the Union Square, Hunt Union.
“We want it as close to the old way as we can possibly get it, there have been ungodly amounts of time spent planning and we are meeting every singly week until OH-Fest,” explained Freeland, “Now there are way more possibilities for bands, fewer barriers to cross. There are way more options as to how we can do this.”

“We’re all adults—content’s not an issue. The schools don’t have any special requests,” added Lawrence.

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