Fair board hears KAABOO debrief

Fair board hears KAABOO debrief
Members of the 22nd DAA say the inaugural Kaaboo event held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds was a success despite complaints from residents about noise levels. Photo by Brian Spady

DEL MAR — Although KAABOO didn’t attract the projected attendance of 40,000 people per day, the inaugural three-day music festival that began Sept. 18 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds was a success, Julie Coleman told the 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors at the Oct. 13 meeting.

“KAABOO was a great event,” Coleman, director of community relations for the organizers — The Madison Companies/Horsepower Entertainment LLC — said during the first public summary of what was billed as an arts and entertainment “mix-perience.”

From a traffic and security standpoint, it was non-eventful, Coleman added. Hotels and restaurants were “very thankful” and people were asking when the event was coming back.

“They just loved it,” she said.

According to her summary, KAABOO “provided the Southern California region with a unique entertainment experience that combines world-class music, local cuisine, drink and art into one upscale environment.”

It featured more than 100 performers on seven stages with music by No Doubt, Killers, Snoop Dogg, Foster the People, Neon Trees, Train and Counting Crows, to name a few, comedians, upscale dining, an art fair, and an area that offered massages, henna tattoos and hair and nail services.

Nearly 3,400 positive comments were posted on social media and many guests are ready to buy passes for next year’s event, which will be held Sept. 16, 17 and 18, Coleman said.

The average age of attendees, who were 57 percent female and 43 percent male, was 38 and their average household income was more than $100,000.

Coleman reported that KAABOO employed approximately 2,000 people and generated about $218,000 in onsite sales tax from merchandise, food and beverage sales.

The event organizers purchased more than 3,900 hotel rooms for staff and guests. All local hotels were sold out, she said, resulting in more than $65,000 in transient occupancy tax revenue.

Representatives from two of Del Mar’s six hotels were on hand to confirm Coleman’s report.

“We want them back,” Sheila Zable, sales manager for Clarion Inn Del Mar, said after noting that September is typically the slowest month for hotel stays.

KAABOO extended her season, with Clarion sold out at high rates. Zable said there were no noise complaints from guests.

Bob Harter, director of sales and marketing for L’Auberge Del Mar, said the event was not just a win for his hotel.

“It really populated the village as a whole,” he said. “It really moved the needle” and brought in a crowd that “normally wouldn’t venture into Del Mar.”

“We’re excited about the future,” Harter added. “We’re excited about next year. We see nothing but an upside.”

The staff report for the 22nd DAA, which governs the fairgrounds, included five letters from area business owners and residents who praised the event.

Fair board directors said they also received positive comments. However, as with any first-time event, there were a few hiccups, “but very few,” Coleman said.

Although the outdoor music ended “at 10 p.m. on the money,” Coleman said the majority of the complaints received were about noise.

She said adjustments were made throughout the weekend to address the problems, but high heat, wind and humidity on the final day resulted in complaints, not so much from the adjacent cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, but from Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights.

“We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused from time to time relating to sound disturbance,” Coleman said. “Obviously, these weather conditions were highly unusual and beyond our control.

“Nevertheless, we are actively seeking to implement additional solutions next year to further mitigate sound disturbance, including the use of sound blankets, modifying stage orientation and several other measures,” she added.

The organizers are not releasing attendance numbers, “however, we were very pleased with the attendance, which was in line with our expectations for the first year of this event,” Coleman said.

Ticket prices ranged from $125 for one-day admission to $2,499 for a three-day VIP pass. Other VIP passes were available and Coleman said most sold out. They offered free or discounted food, access to different viewing areas and meet-and-greet sessions with some artists.

Director Pierre Sleiman suggested offering a lower-priced ticket category. Director Russ Penniman recommended booking bands that were not on the “heavy rock” side on Sunday night and decreasing the number of ticket categories.

President Fred Schenk said in addition to providing a complaint hot line the organizers should consider adding a phone number where people can send text messages. Director Stephen Shewmaker asked Coleman to share attendance numbers confidentially with the board.

Coleman said she would discuss the recommendations with the organizers.

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