OXFORD — From the fans to the police to the neighbors, the inaugural Nateva Festival closed Sunday with widespread approval.
Brandt Passalacqua and Anna Neiman, of Northampton, Mass., said they heard about the festival from a friend and The Flaming Lips were one of the groups they were looking forward to.
“I had no idea what they would be like,” said Passalacqua. “They blew me away.”
“I loved it,” said Neiman. “I was happy when it began and I was happy when it ended.”
People owning property adjacent to the Fairgrounds said they were pleased with the way the concert was being run. Robin Millett and her son, Shawn Knowlan, sold food outside Millett's house on Pottle Road directly across from the main stage.
“They have been an exceedingly well-behaved, polite, courteous group of kids,” she said.
Knowlan said the noise from the performances was not loud enough to disturb the neighborhood, and that there were only minor disturbances quickly quelled by security personnel. He said expected traffic jams never materialized, likely due to a reluctance of area residents to travel during the festival.
“I think a lot of people got spooked,” he said.
The fans weren't spooked, however.
Local and national bands began performing on Thursday night for early arrivals, and the main stage located outdoors at the Oxford Fairgrounds opened on Friday. Sunday's acts included Zappa Plays Zappa, featuring Frank Zappa's son Dweezil Zappa; funk legends George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic; and the rock and blues group The Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band. Closing out the festival was Furthur, which includes former Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.
In recent days, the main stage shows have attracted increasing numbers of the thousands of concert-goers from the satellite campgrounds. The Flaming Lips packed the stage area on Saturday night with a unique rock and roll sound and entertaining stage performance. Among other oddities, lead singer Wayne Coyne made his entrance in something akin to a hamster ball and went crowd surfing in it.
The crowd didn't phase Wayne and Jane Lewis, Pottle Road residents who live opposite the main entry gate and shuttle drop-off point. They were wary of the festival at first but glad that no major issues arose. Jane said that there were some difficulties due to Pottle Road being closed, but that she wouldn't mind if the festival returned next year.
“For us older people, it really hasn't been bad music,” Wayne said.
Scott Hamilton, who lives on the opposite end of the fairgrounds, offered T-shirts, ice, parking and free cooling hose sprays to concert passersby. Hamilton felt the festival did not prove to be a substantial boon to area businesses, since most attendees stayed in the area of the fairgrounds. However, he felt the event could increase awareness of the Oxford Hills area.
“It's kind of nice to have these many neighbors move in for the weekend,” he said.
Several American flags popped up at campsites and on music lovers themselves in recognition of the Independence Day holiday. The large wooden “Nateva” sign on the hill overlooking the fairgrounds was transformed overnight to give it a stars and stripes makeover.
Mark Lacoursiere, of Edmonton, Canada, was attracted to the festival by the wide range of music. A teacher on summer break, he said the environment proved to be a friendly one among both concert-goers and workers.
“I'm very particular about organization, and they were very well-organized,” he said.
Chief Robert Federico of the Norway Police Department worked at the festival from its start on Thursday. He believed there were 21 arrests, mostly drug-related, by Sunday afternoon. From his station near a checkpoint leading into the campgrounds, however, he had heard no complaints.
“It seems to be a very cooperative bunch,” he said. “Quite a few people came over and thanked us for what we've been doing.”