Saturday, May 10, 2003

Dancin' crowd helps festival pick up the pace

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Concert-goers enjoy the band Gomez at Jammin' on Main downtown Friday evening.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
Pepsi's Jammin' on Main festival got off to a slow start when the gates opened at 7 p.m. Friday, and did not improve a great deal after night fell.

Police did not have an early crowd estimate, but crowds were thin, even as the time grew near for Friday's main attraction, Joan Jett, to perform.

Those who were on hand were determined to have fun, and by the time it got dark and bands took to three stages, the beer was flowing and the crowds were dancing.

"I really think it is going to take off," said Krista Topolosky, 32, of Fort Mitchell. "This is my first time, and I came with some people from work to see someone who didn't show. But we're going to hang out and drink beer and have fun."

Larry Nager's review of concerts
The two-day event on Main Street from Ninth to Central Parkway - is expected to draw about 40,000 people before the last act performs and the venue closes for another year after midnight on Saturday.

"We can't wait till Joan Jett comes on," said Natasha Carter, 19, of Dillsboro, Ind. "This is our first time. We thought it would be a lot more crowded."

Carter, who came to the festival with three other friends, was typical of Friday's young and energetic attendees.

"We love rock 'n' roll," 19-year-old Amy Hollenbeck of Aurora, Ind., yelled.

The event - which began nine years ago - is now owned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Organizers hope $16 weekend passes and the $13 nightly admission will generate substantial revenue for the symphony. In all, more than 30 acts are expected to perform, including today's high school band battle beginning at 3 p.m. The Symphony took over Jammin' on Main in 2001, just in time to see it canceled in the aftermath of Cincinnati's worst riots in 30 years.

Traditionally, the music stopped at midnight, but this year organizers extended the play time another 45 minutes.

Alcohol sales stop an hour earlier.

"I heard this was a great town for street festivals," said Rusty Fields, 26, formerly of Austin, Texas. "I hear that summers here are hopping, a good scene. I'm not disappointed yet. It's a wait-and-see thing."

But as Light Wire, the first act to take the stage, drew more people, John Kayse, 17, of Delhi, declared the event a success.

"It's cheaper than the prom!" he said.


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