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Fairgrounds ready to rock

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 10:35 a.m.

Concert organizers and Westmoreland Fairgrounds employees will be preparing this week for the arrival of some 40,000 visitors to Rolling Rock Town Fair 2.0.

The 40-acre fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township can accommodate the crowd, but space is only one consideration. Traffic, parking, seating, noise and litter control, alcohol consumption and security are among the details being worked out in advance of Saturday's event.

Mike Stellone, supervising producer, said 33,000 tickets have been sold for the concert featuring Stone Temple Pilots and other rock performers. As many as 10,000 additional tickets have been distributed through contests and promotions, he said.

Stellone said he expects the audience to arrive in about 15,000 vehicles.

'A lot of rock festival-goers are young adults and teen-agers, and not all of them have their own cars, so they may go in a group,' he said.

To prevent traffic congestion near the fairgrounds, only 2,000 vehicles with special permits will be allowed to use the onsite parking lot.

Most fair-goers will park in satellite lots at Greengate Mall, Hempfield Township; Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Unity Township; or near Scarp's Driving Range in Norvelt, Mt. Pleasant Township. Free shuttle buses will take audience members to and from the fairgrounds.

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Parking (39K)
Map showing locations for Town Fair parking.

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Much of the traffic will be coming from southwestern Pennsylvania, said Jim Rodman, assistant brand manager for Rolling Rock's parent company, Norwalk, Conn.-based Labatt USA. But many audience members are coming to the concert from out of state, and some will be traveling from Europe.

'There's been a tremendous amount of interest overseas,' Rodman said.

Suggested routes from Pittsburgh, as well as points south, north and east, are described on the Town Fair section of Rolling Rock's Web site at www.rollingrock.com.

Mark Kovalcik, transportation coordinator for the event, said personnel from Delphi Traffic Co. of Cranberry Township, Butler County, will be posted at key intersections to keep traffic moving smoothly.

Delphi employees will check parking permits at the intersection of state Route 130 and Marguerite Reservoir Road (State Route 2017) and divert drivers without a permit to a satellite lot.

Shuttle buses are scheduled to leave and return to the satellite lots at regular intervals, beginning at 9 a.m. Shuttles will run until after the fairgrounds' closing at 8 p.m.

To accommodate shuttle traffic on concert day, Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors will close Pollins Road (Township Route 830), off Pleasant Unity Road; Trauger Road (TR 571), off Route 981 near Trauger Lake; Main Street (TR 567), near Sosko Trucking; and Fairgrounds Road (TR 565) between Route 981 and the fairgrounds.

Township Supervisor Regis Adamrovich said residents who live along those roads will be given permits so they can pass the barricades.

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Town Fair (213K)
Map of Westmoreland Fairgrounds

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Once at the fairgrounds, rock fans may notice some changes from last year, when Town Fair debuted. Additional seating and a fenced 'beer garden' area have been installed.

Jim Nicola, fairgrounds manager, said about 700 seats have been added to the covered grandstand, bringing the total to nearly 5,000. In addition, a hillside near the grandstand was graded to create lawn seating.

'It was a steep bank and we brought the grade down, not just because of the seating, but because it looks better aesthetically,' Nicola said.

As many as 2,000 fans can watch the concert from the lawn.

The performance area benefits from the change in terrain as well, Nicola said. The stage and grandstand are in a bowl-like depression, which keeps sound from traveling too far and disturbing the neighbors.

Last year, consultants from Ergonomics Safety Services of New Stanton took sound-level readings in neighborhoods nearby. The noise reached 89 decibels at most - less than a typical car stereo, Nicola said.

Beer sales at the concert - and beer drinkers, as well - will be confined to an enclosed area, 618 by 149 feet, that will be strictly controlled to keep underage drinkers out.

Patrons will be directed to lines where workers will check identification cards and issue nonremovable plastic wristbands and beer tickets. Fans must show their wristbands before entering the beer garden.

Security crews will check IDs and wristbands at the four beer garden entrances and prevent drinkers from carrying their brews outside the fenced area.

Concession operator Gordon Sauers of Penn Avenue Inc. of Pittsburgh said beer will be served in cups with the Rolling Rock design. Outside the beer garden, soft drinks will be dispensed in cups with the Pepsi logo.

'No cups of any kind are permitted to leave the beer garden,' Sauers said.

To keep things clean, a team of 20 fairgrounds workers will check 10 Dumpsters and 200 garbage cans throughout the day.

About 100 employees and volunteers will staff the beer garden, he said. Each state-certified server is trained to spot underage drinkers and those who have had too much.

Stellone said 18 security officers will roam the beer garden to ensure the rules are being obeyed.

In all, 278 security workers will be at the fairgrounds, on nearby roadways or in satellite lots, Stellone said. About 65 will be near the stage area and 'mosh pit' dance area to handle crowd control and 'shut off' those who over-indulge.

'No one's going to be arrested just for being intoxicated,' Stellone said. 'If someone had too much to drink and is not causing anyone any problems, the security will just take his wristband.'

No beer tickets will be sold after 5 p.m., and no beer will be served in the hour before the concert ends at 7:30, Stellone said.

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