OH-FEST Preview: Students Embrace “Good Neighbor Policy”

Tracey Cheek & Monica Dore, Staff Writers

On Saturday, April 25, the tenth annual OH-Fest, an event meant to incorporate students from both colleges as well the entire Oneonta community, will be held in the city.

The in-town street fair will be held from 1 to 5 p.m.  The festival is followed by the concert, kicking off at 6 p.m. with SUNY Oneonta’s student-band Naughty.  Panic! At The Disco is headlining the show, which will end by 9 p.m.  Students from both of the city’s colleges, citizens of the city and visitors will all gather at Neahwa Park for OH-Fest 10.

This year’s event was met with opposition from both town officials and locals, who expressed concerns due to last year’s festivities. Last year’s concert reached an estimated 4,000 people. After the show, which ended at 10 p.m., some concertgoers were hitting cars, stealing traffic cones, urinating and vomiting in public–leaving the town extremely unhappy with the actions of those in attendance.

Members of the Student Association Activities Council at SUNY Oneonta are promoting a “Good Neighbor Policy.”  This policy is intended to prevent the type of incidents that have happened during previous OH-Fest concerts.  Vice President of Activities, Kacie Evans, explains the importance of being respectful downtown at this upcoming OH-Fest.

“We understand that students want to have fun and hang out with their friends––and we want them to–but it is important to remember that community members will not be celebrating the same way students will be.”  OH-Fest is a huge event for the community as a whole, and students have to keep in mind that we share this community.

This year’s crowd is expected to nearly triple, with estimates saying that 10,000 to 12,000 people will attend the show.  In a statement to The Daily Star, Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayo said that expecting Oneonta Police to be able to handle 12,000 people would be “silly,” because the city simply does not have the resources to deal with possible conflict in a crowd of that size.

In previous years, the organizers of OH-Fest have paid for private security measures to ensure the safety of students and citizens of Oneonta––as safety has been the biggest concern of the festival.  In addition, the Oneonta Police Department will be receiving help for the day from officers of other deputies and state police.

Several SUNY schools have had their spring concerts and festivals cancelled–Brock the Port and FRED Fest will not be held this year.  OH-Fest 11 will only be possible if everyone cooperates and behaves, “This year is critical and we all need to do our part to make sure that we have OH-Fest downtown for years to come.  If students are having guests, it’s important to remind them that they can also make it or break it for the rest of us,” said Evans.

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