Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's All Fun Until Someone Gets Arrested

Every year, over Labor Day weekend, a big festival takes place not far from here.  It's a huge event, spread out over more than 15 city blocks.  It's based on art, music and food so there is plenty of each to enjoy.  We've been to this festival in the past, before it was relocated to a different city.

In the old location, there was no admission fee and no specified entrances.  You would pay five bucks to park in a local church lot, walk a few blocks and enter the festival from any point in the city.  You could bring your own refreshments or buy them at one of nearly a hundred booths.  The main stage, where all the well known bands played, was in a state of the art arena with seating for 3000.

Now, in the new location, parking is fifteen dollars, there is a three dollar per person admission fee (it goes to charity, I don't have an issue with the cost) and you have to enter at one of several gated entrances.  You stand in line, pay and then submit to a search of your belongings to make sure you're not bringing in any food or beverages.  If you do have, say, a bottle of water, candy bar or piece of fruit in your possession, you must surrender it.  The family in front of us had every nook and cranny of their baby's stroller and diaper bag searched for such contraband.

We attended the festival specifically to see one of our favorite bands perform.  After walking a few blocks, we found the main concert stage where the big name bands were scheduled to play.  In stark contrast to the arena we were expecting, we found a fairly small stage set up in a parking lot.  The only seating available was fenced off.  It was VIP only, for winners of a local radio station contest.  The rest of the audience had only standing room.

It was an overcast day, not hot, but damp.  The humidity was nearly 80% and you could feel every bit of it when sandwiched in between a few hundred other spectators.  We were there early enough to get pretty close to the front.  We had our daughter with us and she's not quite five feet tall, so we positioned ourselves where she could see the stage by looking between other people.  But just before the show started, a man and his wife pushed through the crowd (nearly knocking over a disabled man) and positioned themselves directly in front of us.  They could see that they were blocking our daughter's view, but they didn't seem to care.  I remarked how rude they were and got no response.  By moving a few steps to our right, we managed to get a little bit better view.  Unfortunately, it also put us in direct line with the dancing woman who was spilling beer everywhere.

Things continued to get worse.  The stage was located about 40 feet away from the railroad tracks.  During the show, three trains came through, blaring their horns and nearly drowning out the concert.  The blockhead and his wife who had obstructed our view kept backing into us and the dancing drunk woman started staring at my daughter and me.  A woman to my left was filming the concert with her phone which she positioned directly in front of my face and her friend continuously flipped her hair in my daughter's face.

We did our best to enjoy ourselves.  The band was great, and once the breeze started blowing, it didn't seem as damp and sticky.  But the people around us were sucking all the fun out it.  It was beyond irritating and way past annoying.  I just couldn't take it anymore so I looked over at Mr. Willoughby and mouthed the words "domino effect".  He nodded and we set our plan into action.  I gave him a big shove which sent him directly into the back of the blockhead.  Blockhead then flew face first into the fence that sectioned off the VIP section.

The band stopped playing because of the commotion.  It was quiet enough for dancing drunk woman to hear me when I asked "What is your problem?".  She threw her beer to the ground and responded "You want a piece of me?", to which I replied "Bring it."  Everything happened pretty fast after that.  I'm not sure who threw the first punch, but we went at it for a good three or four minutes before some people pulled us apart.  Mr. W was protecting our daughter during the scuffle, but when someone suggested he "control his psycho wife", he started swinging.  Other fights were breaking out all through the audience.  It had become a riot.

By the time the police arrived, the band had left the stage all together.  A dozen or so people, myself and Mr. W included, were arrested and taken away in handcuffs.  Our daughter was held in protective custody until my parents arrived to pick her up.

And that's when I snapped out of my daydream.  We didn't start the domino effect and we didn't push or punch anyone.  As badly as I wanted to lose my cool and hit a few people, the prospect of being arrested made it less appealing.  In reality, we sang and danced and enjoyed the show as best we could, despite train whistles and rude spectators.  No handcuffs were involved and our daughter went home with us.

Will we attend the festival again next year?  I'll get back to you.



5thsister said...

Isn't that a shame. I've been to "revamped" festivals just like that. I like your daydream, though.

lisleman said...

You had me. I was shocked. You would probably agree that people have less respect for each other. Is this domino effect one that you and your husband have used before?