Saturday, 11 May 2019 22:27

Epicenter evacuated as storms pass through

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ROCKINGHAM - The bands and fans weren’t the only things rocking Saturday afternoon at Epicenter Festival.
Winds from a thunderstorm that caused an evacuation shortly into Black Label Society’s set had vehicles rocking back and forth. After the storm passed, some fans left while others waited on word as to when they could return.
 
Instead, officials canceled the rest of the day’s events.
 
“From the safety of fans, artists, and staff, the county of Richmond has determined that Epicenter will not resume tonight,” organizers posted on the event’s Facebook page. “Severe weather is continuing and we need to repair damage to the site. “Please understand that this is a difficult decision and we know how excited each of you were.”
 
Following the announcement, the crowd started to leave...but many didn’t move for at least an hour.
 
“I lovingly call it the ‘Epic Fail Festival,’” said Lisa Garcia, who made the drive from outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
 
At the time, she had been waiting in the same spot for 45 minutes trying to get out of the field on the south side of Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex.
 
“This is a nightmare,” she said, adding it took more than two hours to make it out the first night.
 
“If you’re in the venue, it’s awesome,” she continued. “It’s set up better than Carolina (Rebellion) was in Charlotte (Motor Speedway) but getting in and out, I won’t come back, I don’t think ... this is ridiculous.”
Garcia said it was logistically impossible to get 30,000 people in and out on a two-lane road.
 
The N.C. Department of Transportation is in the midst of a four-laning project on U.S. 1, which divides the speedway and Rockingham Dragway, where the stages and majority of vendors were set up.
A third lane was opened to accommodate regular traffic.
 
Her favorite band of the first two of the scheduled three-day hard rock and heavy metal festival was Motionless in White.
 
“I love them,” she said. “And they’re hometown boys, they’re from Scranton.”
 
That was the last band to perform a full set before the evacuation order was given. While she was disappointed she didn’t get to see Tool perform, Garcia was understanding about the cancellation- unlike other fans.
 
“That’s Mother Nature, nobody can handle that,” she said. “What they can handle is this (parking and traffic). It’s nobody’s fault that it thunderstormed, it’s been planned for months, you can’t help the weather ... but this, logistically, is out of control.”
 
Other fans complained about the traffic situation on Friday, some saying they weren’t able to attend. Although more rain is expected for Sunday, gates are currently scheduled to open at noon.
Last modified on Monday, 13 May 2019 10:37