Photos & Story by Dave Warner
If you ask Mike Lonis founder of the event or Jordyan Mueller coordinator about how the inaugural event went, they’ll tell you it was a success. There were some glitches, but that’s to be expected the first time you try something like this.
It appeared that between 400 and 500 people attended the two day event, which was filled with a lot of regional talent.
Lonis stated “I’m very happy. It was definitely a success in my view. We pulled it off in a short amount of time.”
According to Lonis, there were several factors that could have helped them get a better crowd. Although the weather was perfect, the time of year is not when bikers are out cruising the highways and the time they had to advertise was very short.
“At that time of the year, it’s not typical for bikers to stay overnight at an event because it gets cool at night,” said Lonis.
Once the food came, more people started to show up. “We made over $900.00 in the 50/50 drawings and we also had people that made cash donations. We’ve had some sponsors promising money for next year, so overall it was good,” stated Lonis.
The bands were fantastic and the talent was evident in many of the performances. Lonis said “I loved the location. Everyone that came said that they loved it as well, and I see no reason to change the location until we can actually fill it up and it gets to the point where it’s not feasible.”
According to Lonis, there were a lot of things that they learned from this inaugural event. Signage, the shuttle and the timing of things were top of the list. “We started on Sunday at 11, but we found out that people don’t really get up that early. We learned our lessons from that. The real crowds starting coming around 2 or 3,” Lonis said.
“If we make it into a three day event, that will change things as well with people wanting to camp out and all,” stated Lonis, who said there are a still a lot of hurdles to jump to make that happen.
At this point, Lonis plans to talk to the Tourism Committee, the YMCA and other supporters again, present it to them and let them know how it went. “If we decide at that point that it was worth it and good, then I’ll form another committee and start it again,” said Lonis.
“If you check a lot of these festivals, they are already online and advertising for next year…talking about who they are going to have playing and all. That’s a factor in our potential success right there,” Lonis stated.
The event was free this year, but many of them charge $25, $30 and more. Lonis said “If we can get out there a little earlier this year, with our advertisements and figure out a ticket price for our weekend, then maybe people might take it more seriously.”
According to Lonis, July or August would be better months to have the festival. “That’s definitely more conducive to bikes and stuff,” Lonis stated. “A lot more people would have no problem riding and spending a weekend here during that time.”
Lonis plans to make his presentation to the Tourism Committee this month and to try and get a rapid decision on whether or not to proceed with the event for next year. “If it’s a go, then I plan on being the first one in line January 1st, to reserve our spot in Moreland Park for the best weekend we can get,” said Lonis.
The Bluegrass, Bikes, & BBQ Festival was a community event sponsored by Harley Davidson of Utica, Adirondack Harley, and Little Falls Family YMCA. The event was supported by Kevin and Harry Enea Family Funeral Home, and other proud local sponsors. The concert was also made possible in part by the City of Little Falls, generous support of local businesses and with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.