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.