With the return of the New England Country Festival at Gillette Stadium this weekend, public safety officials are preparing to deal with the traffic and higher than usual tailgating that comes with the yearly concert.
Once again traffic will be one of the big concerns for Foxboro police chief Ed O’Leary. Working with the Massachusetts State Police, a traffic contingency plan has been created in the event that traffic does get back around the area. O’Leary is optimistic that traffic can be controlled bearing a rush to the parking lots.
“If 90 percent of the people don’t show up to create traffic, we’ll be fine,” he said.
Parking lots on both days will not be allowed to open until 2 p.m. with gates to the stadium opening at 4 p.m. The show is expected to start at 5 p.m. A limited amount of tickets are still available for the Aug. 23 show according to the Gillette Stadium website.
To make sure extra vehicles not congest local roads, addition check points will be set up on Mechanic Street, Beach Street, and North Street to cut down on concert traffic.
At the show, police will be keeping an eye out for underaged drinking and inebriated concertgoers as they have in the past.
According to O’Leary, the plan isn’t for police to go out of their way to place people in custody, but rather stop those whose behavior causes trouble for everyone.
“When you’re dealing with live crowds, you cannot allow to put others in danger. It’s not that we’re looking for people, but their behavior puts them out there,” O’Leary said.
Issues with drinking at country shows have not been a problem exclusive to Gillette Stadium. Performances from Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts at the Comcast Center in Mansfield produced some of the higher custody totals for the venue with 52, 48, and 41 people taken into custody.
In Pittsburgh, thousands joined a Facebook group asking Chesney to be banned from the city after 10 larges fights broke out and trash and a giant amount of trash was left at a performance at Heinz Field.
At last year’s Country Fest, over 600 people were taken into custody at last year’s show. Over 100 of the custodies were arrests with the others taken into protective custody. The custody total was the highest in the history of the show.
With a goal of making sure the environment for the show is safe for everyone, O’Leary had one piece of advice for anyone who is attending this weekend’s shows.
“Enjoy yourself by being responsible,” he said.
Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of everything you need to know about this year’s edition of Country Fest.