DEL MAR — The third annual KAABOO Del Mar is more than nine months away, but organizers of the three-day entertainment and arts festival are already announcing improvements based on lessons learned from this year’s event, held over three days in September at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
At least partially in response to an incident that resulted in a hovering police helicopter, some of the venues and stages will be relocated for better accessibility.
On Sept. 17, when two popular concerts ended almost simultaneously, crowds from both performances tried to enter anther show.
The crowd became “agitated” and one law enforcement officer ended up on the ground, which kicked off a police response, a KAABOO representative said during a presentation at the Nov. 15 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors meeting.
Fairgrounds officials who were at the event that night said the Sheriff’s Department “aired on the side of overreacting.” They said the call was retracted but it was too late and a helicopter and additional deputies were deployed.
KAABOO will continue working with local law enforcement and fairground security, but the company has hired a new director of security who has experience working at large venues, including two NFL stadiums.
With input from a consulting firm the 2017 event, scheduled for Sept. 15-17, will feature a re-engineered traffic flow plan and improved parking that will include additional training for lot attendants.
The consultants will use detailed modeling of anticipated traffic flows based on a revised site map and data from this year’s festival.
The drop-off and pickup area for ride-hailing services will be expanded, and KAABOO organizers are working with those companies to address surge pricing.
Other improvements will include additional restrooms in centralized locations, an increased janitorial staff and more ID checkpoints, bars and bartenders in several popular areas.
During the inaugural KAABOO, sound was a major issue for surrounding communities. KAABOO officials spend a lot of time and money addressing those problems. Their efforts seem to have paid off since noise complaints were way down this year.
But officials and residents in nearby Del Mar and Solana Beach said it still wasn’t perfect. Fair board Director David Watson said he is working with the two cities on a revised noise ordinance because, according to him, everyone seems to agree the existing rules are not “realistic.”
Despite some hiccups, KAABOO officials said based on surveys the overall “mix-perience” experience was positive, with attendees giving it close to four-and-a-half stars out of five.
Attendance figures will likely not be released but an estimated 50,000 people attended the 2015 event and officials reported a 70 percent increase in daily attendance this year.
About 50 percent of the patrons came from outside San Diego, including people from all 50 states and more than 30 countries.
“There is a significant economic benefit,” said Julie Coleman, director of community relations for the event.
She said KAABOO generated an estimated $100,000 in sales tax and $63,000 in hotel occupancy tax revenue. The company spent almost $800,000 on staff lodging and meals and employed about 4,000 people.
Several area charities also benefitted.