By KELLI CATANA
---- — PERU — No one would have expected a grassroots music festival in Upstate New York would be as successful as Backwoods Pondfest has been since it started years ago.
Each year, the crowds get bigger, with thousands of people attending the event, which brings internationally acclaimed musicians to the area.
The festival started as “Pondstock” in the early ‘90s. It was an annual party thrown by Sandy Bazzano with local bands performing at Twin Ponds Campsite in Peru.
In 2007, Bazzano’s daughters, Katie and Liz, took over the small music showcase. With the help of Lowell Wurster of Lucid working on production and Chris Boire of Boire Design helping to promote, it’s grown into a full-blown music festival right in our own back yard.
“It’s got so big, and the public response is huge,” Boire said. “It’s grown every year in numbers.”
Organizers are expecting more than 1,400 attendees at this year’s festival on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3.
Since its inception, the selected artists have gone from local bands to regional and international acts, Boire said.
“What’s different about us is that we really have a huge local draw,” Boire said. “People who work that want to see music and don’t get to travel around and see bands (come).”
“Local folks look forward to it every year,” Wurster added.
A large network of people help to put on the show.
“It’s crazy the amount of things it takes to put on a good festival,” Wurster said.
“We don’t relax until mid-September, when we know everything is over and we start preparing for the next year,” Boire said.
He books bands in January for the August festival.
“Putting on a show of that magnitude is incredibly stressful,” Boire said.
Some years, they have lost money putting on the event and had to pay out-of-pocket, but they always make sure the bands are paid, he said.
According to Wurster, ticket sales, the weather and waking up in the morning with a list of things to do all contribute to the festival’s success.
“We’ve been donating our time, and work on this festival for 10 months out of the year,” Wurster said.
Unlike many music events, parking is free at Backwoods Pondfest.
“We’re not trying to nickel and dime people for parking, camping and reentry.” Wurster said.
Over the last two years, the number of out-of-town visitors has been increasing, Boire said. This year, tickets have been sold online throughout New England, and people are coming from as far as California and Colorado.
Organizers also provide an outlet for concertgoers to give back to the community. They collect donations of food items and toiletries to benefit local food shelves.
“Patrons love the atmosphere we provide because of the size of the grounds,” Wurster said. “The event will never be too big, and we’re fine with that. When you get too big it loses the grassroots feeling.”
Email Kelli Catana:firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Backwoods Pondfest 2013
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3.
WHERE: Twin Ponds Campsite, Fuller Road, Peru.
ADMISSION: Gate ticket price is $80 for a weekend pass; save $5 with donation of canned good or toiletry item. Day passes are available for camping only Saturday for $50.
CONTACT: For tickets and more information visit www.backwoodspondfest.com or call 335-7911.
BAND LINEUP FRIDAY
▶ 2 to 3 p.m. Flabberghaster, Tent Stage.
▶ 3 to 4 p.m. The Hornitz, Main Stage.
▶ 4 to 5 p.m. Sinecure, Tent Stage.
▶ 5 to 6:15 p.m. Aqueous, Main Stage.
▶ 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. The Blind Owl Band, Tent Stage.
▶ 7:30 to 9 p.m. Spiritual Rez, Main Stage.
▶ 9 to 10:15 p.m. Lucid, Tent Stage.
▶ 10:15 to 11:45 p.m. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Main Stage.
▶ 11:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jimkata, Tent Stage.
▶ 1 to 2:30 a.m. Dopapod, Main Stage.
▶ 2:30 to 3:45 a.m. Higher Organix, Tent Stage.
▶ 3:45 to 4:45 a.m. Scroll (DJ set), Tent Stage.
▶ 11 a.m. to noon. Doomf@#k, Tent Stage.
▶ Noon to 1:15 p.m. The Chronicles, Main Stage.
▶ 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Rack Em Let's Go!, Tent Stage.
▶ 2:15 to 3:45 p.m. FiKus, Main Stage.
▶ 3:45 to 5 p.m. Formula 5, Tent Stage.
▶ 5 to 6:15 p.m. The Garcia Project, Main Stage.
▶ 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Capital Zen, Tent Stage.
▶ 7:30 to 9 p.m. Jennifer Hartswick Band, Main Stage.
▶ 9 to 10:15 p.m. Sophistafunk, Tent Stage.
▶ 10:15 to 11:45 p.m. Bernie Worrell Orchestra, Main Stage. Eight-piece band features Burnie Worrell, the legendary keyboardist from Parliament Funkadelic and The Talking Heads.
▶ 11:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. Twiddle, Tent Stage.
▶ 1 to 2:30 a.m. Lucid, Main Stage.
▶ 2:30 to 3:45 a.m. Cosmic Dust Bunnies, Tent Stage.
▶ 3:45 to 4:45 a.m. Dirty Bunny (DJ set), Tent Stage.