Having a (too) hot time at The Expo

There were some sour notes in the public chorus that accompanied Jackson County's first hosting of the Country Crossings Music Festival, but like a guitar that needs some tuning, most of the concerns can be addressed.

The festival, held at The Expo grounds in Central Point, drew a host of country music singers and country music fans. With top billing going to performers like Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Jake Owen and Chris Stapleton, the music was a hit. There were, however, bugs to be worked out as the festival marked the first of what's hoped to be many more appearances locally.

Conversations with festival goers and views of social media posts revealed a number of issues, the vast majority of them solvable. Problems included:

  • A first-night parking nightmare in which people were delayed by hours trying to leave the premises. More shuttle buses were brought in and the situation much improved over the following nights.

  • Not enough beer service lines — a major shortcoming for a country music event put on in the heat of summer.

  • Not enough trash cans, not enough shade, not enough signage. And, of course, not enough bathrooms.

To their credit, the festival organizers steadily made improvements as the four-day event progressed. And we're certain that with the first year under their belts, they'll make more.

Some seem relatively simple to address: More, and thus shorter, beer lines (no one wants to wait an hour in 98-degree heat for a beer), more trash cans, toilets and signs.

The ongoing challenge for this festival will be the heat. To make room for the event, which was estimated to draw 20,000 people, the Jackson County Fair was moved up a week. Anyone who regularly attended the fair knows that Country Crossings moved into one of the hottest times of the year at The Expo. Of course, it could have been worse — it could have been this week. But heat in the Rogue Valley in late July is inevitable and there's not much the organizers can do about that.

Fans who attended said more shade tents, more misting tents, maybe some large fans, would help. The organizers should reach out to the ticket buyers for their ideas on how to beat the heat, or at least make it more bearable.

The festival performances were, by all accounts, top-notch and the large crowds boisterous but well-behaved. It was a boon for local businesses, from restaurants to hotels to sunscreen sellers. It's an event we all want to see succeed and one that we hope will be remembered as a hot time for its music rather than its weather.

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