Del Mar Fairgrounds officials address concerns about September 18-20 music festival

Officials with the agency that runs the Del Mar Fairgrounds sought to allay community concerns about a three-day music, food and art festival planned for September at the fairgrounds, and also to highlight the festival’s anticipated economic benefits, at their March 10 meeting.

Discussion of the KAABOO Festival came up at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which operates the state-owned fairgrounds. Concerns about traffic, noise and other impacts from the festival were raised earlier in the day at a meeting between fairgrounds officials and representatives of the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, as well as at a Del Mar City Council meeting last week.

Fairgrounds CEO and general manager Tim Fennell said the organizers of the festival, scheduled for Sept. 18-20, have what he believes are effective traffic management and security plans. He predicted that once local residents see how well the festival is run, they will welcome the event back in the future.

Fennell and other fair board members also said that the anticipated daily attendance for the festival of about 40,000 people would constitute a “slow day” at the San Diego County Fair, which has average daily attendance of about 66,000.

Fair board member David Watson attended the meeting with city officials earlier on Tuesday, where KAABOO organizers made a presentation about the event.

Watson acknowledged there have been “PR (public relations) missteps” by festival organizers, such as posting information on the event website that states that the gates will be open until 3 a.m., but doesn’t explain that outdoor musical performances will end by 10 p.m. each night.

Indoor activities will run until 2:30 a.m., according to a PowerPoint presentation prepared by KAABOO organizers.

22nd DAA officials also said the event will provide a boost for local businesses.

“It’s going to be a tremendous economic benefit,” Watson said.

KAABOO representatives, in their presentation, said the event will generate an estimated $1.5 million in sales tax revenue on merchandise, food and beverages, vending, parking and lodging.

In addition, the presentation said, some 10,000 hotel room nights will be booked by staff, artists and guests, generating $200,000 in occupancy tax revenue for local governments.

The festival will employ about 2,500 people from the San Diego area, said the report, but it was not clear what the duration of those jobs would be.

The festival is being produced by HorsePower Entertainment LLC, a subsidiary of the Madison Companies LLC, a Denver-based private investment firm that owns and invests in hospitality, entertainment, leisure, specialty art storage and real-estate businesses throughout the U.S., said the presentation.

The KAABOO representatives will make a presentation April 14 at the 22nd DAA board meeting, and they will also make presentations at the Del Mar and Solana Beach city council meetings in coming weeks, fairgrounds officials said.

At the 22nd DAA board meeting in February, directors approved a $1.95 million contract with festival organizers, and Fennell said the event should bring the district about $1 million in revenue after expenses for security and other requirements are covered.