Organizers are getting tuned up in preparation for the launch of the Country Boom music festival, particularly in terms of parking and traffic.
Jon Holthaus, the event’s chief organizer, asked the La Crosse County Board’s Planning, Resources and Development Committee for revisions to the previously approved conditional-use permit.
One of the conditions in the CUP approved last fall called for festival organizers to conduct a traffic impact study prior to the event, which will be held July 13-14. The CUP was based on an initial estimate that foresaw crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 coming to the festival on the former Maple Grove Country Club grounds southeast of West Salem in the town of Hamilton.
Now that the acts have been lined up and ticket sales are underway, it appears that the traffic impact on area roads might be less than expected.
“It’s tough to say with these type of events,” Holthaus said of expected attendance, but his best guess is Country Boom this year will draw 10,000 to 12,000 per day.
Rather than do a traffic impact study ahead of the festival, Holthaus proposed to wait until the post-event critique is completed to see whether such an impact study would be needed.
Michael Horstman, a captain with the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office, consulted with county highway commissioner Ron Chamberlain and they agreed that a traffic impact study wouldn’t be needed before the event. He noted in a letter to the committee that as of last Friday almost 3,600 tickets had been sold for each day of the festival and that at least 800 of those people will be camping.
Holthaus also asked that the CUP be amended to designate up to 122 acres of land across Ceresa Drive to the south of the Maple Grove site for parking. Holthaus noted that while he is asking for the entire parcel to be approved for parking, only about 40 acres on the north side of the property would be used for parking this year.
Holthaus said that would provide parking for up to 3,000 cars. He noted that festival organizers are working with hotels and taverns to provide shuttles to the Country Boom grounds to ease pressure on traffic and parking, and to make it easier for music fans to get to and from the festival.
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The property for the designated parking area, which is owned by Jim Shurson, was chosen because it is on the west side of Hwy. B, as is the festival site. That way, festival goers won’t have to cross the highway to get there.
Holthaus noted that a double fence on the north side of the parking area will be set up to ensure that people don’t stray into the neighborhood on Ceresa Drive. A fence also will be put up along Hwy. B to prevent people from interacting with traffic as they walk between the festival and the parking lot.
Horstman and Chamberlain also endorsed the proposed parking area.
The full committee voted unanimously in favor of the changes to the CUP, and now the matter goes to the full county board at its meeting May 17.
Monday’s committee proceedings were filmed for behind-the-scenes mini documentaries that are being made about what goes into organizing the event. They can be seen on the Country Boom Facebook page.