If Oshkosh is going to continue to promote itself as "Event City" then it needs to be also be "Prepared To Host Events City". As the nightly debacle that is getting to and from Country USA shows, we don't have the infrastructure in place to handle ever-growing attendance at Ford Festival Park.
I had someone ask me yesterday why the city gives C-USA and Rock USA special event permits if they don't have any reliable parking on site and they make people walk in the road to get in. What a lot of people don't realize is that the festival site is actually in the Town of Nekimi--so no event permit is required--even though plenty of police and ambulance services are required in that area. Last night's crash that injured three pedestrians along South Washburn Street happened within the city limits. And why were those people walking? Because for the umpteenth consecutive year, it's too wet to park anywhere near the necessary number of vehicles safely on the grounds themselves--so people are being directed to lots throughout the city.
I was riding my bike to work this morning at 3:00 AM and was stopped by a pair of young ladies in cowboy boots along Westfield Street who had been wandering around for about a half hour in my neighborhood trying to figure out where they had parked. Eeventually, we figured out it was the Sears lot and I directed them on their way. I'm guessing that in the chaos that is departure time at C-USA they didn't get to the shuttle buses in time and were left to fend for themselves in walking back to the lot. They should consider themselves lucky compared to the three folks that got run over while still trying to get into the grounds at 10:00 last night along a dark road.
So it is time for Winnebago County, the City of Oshkosh and the Town of Nekimi to demand that Starshow Presents make some major changes to both the facilities at Ford Festival Park and the processes they use to get their customers in and out of the grounds. First up should be a requirement that on-site parking be in a condition that can actually be used regardless of how much rain we get. If that means a million dollars worth of gravel--then I guess a million dollars worth of gravel needs to be spread around there. Second should be a drastic reduction in the size and scale of camping allowed on-site. There are a lot of people out there all week who don't even have tickets to get in to the concert--they just love being out there for the drinking and the drugs all week. Third, Starshow should be made to pay for a lighted, paved walkway capable of handling the foot traffic generated by their events along Washburn Street. The walkway should run from the gates all the way to the nearest sidewalk in the city. You might want to put up a fence to separate it from the street as well--just to make sure the drunks leaving the grounds in the middle of the night don't go wandering into traffic.
Once all of these obviously-needed improvements are made to Ford Festival Park, then Oshkosh will be a little bit closer to "Prepared to Host Events City".