DEL MAR — With the inaugural KAABOO Del Mar in the books, organizers and officials in Del Mar and at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the three-day music event was held, are in debrief mode, determining what should be done to improve the “mixperience” next year.
One of the first recommendations from residents as far away as Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley will likely be to turn down the volume and work with Mother Nature to ensure wind, heat and humidity are at a minimum.
Beginning with an evening VIP gathering on Sept. 17, KAABOO featured more than 100 performers on seven stages with music by No Doubt, the Killers, Snoop Dogg, Foster the People, Neon Trees, Train and Counting Crows, to name a few.
Upscale dining in restaurant areas, complete with chandeliers, offered everything from lobster rolls and shrimp and grits to meatballs and gourmet hot dogs from local eateries.
There were dozens of craft breweries and wine tastings, an art fair, a swimming pool and beach and an area called Indulgences that offered massages, henna tattoos and hair and nail services.
The target audience was 25 to 55 years old, with the average ticket buyer around 38. Attendees seemed predominantly on the younger end of that spectrum, and there were plenty of families with younger children, some in strollers.
Representatives from the organizer, HorsePower LLC, worked with the community to address their concerns, which mainly focused on activities that could potentially take place offsite, such as traffic, disturbing the peace late at night, trash, lighting and noise.
For the most part the organizers lived up to their promise to be good neighbors, with few if any reported traffic and parking problems or illegal activities in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Sheriff’s deputies onsite said the California Highway Patrol had a driving-under-the-influence “saturation” and for the size of the crowd, problems were minimal.
Deputy John Cannon said there were a handful of minor arrests on the fairgrounds property Sept. 18, the first official day of the festival, for drunk in public.
Mayor Al Corti said he can’t remember the last time he saw so many law enforcement officers in one place.
A hot line to report problems was manned throughout the event. While many said it was answered by a machine, Kristen Krane, Del Mar’s management services director, said someone was “actively returning calls all weekend.”
“They were sincere in that,” Krane said.
The city received about 50 phone calls, emails, voice messages and online comments, mostly between Sunday and Monday. All were noise complaints, some from people in Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights.
Councilman Don Mosier noted high winds, temperatures and humidity on Sunday likely contributed to sound transmission patterns that are difficult to control.
Krane said many callers wanted to know why the city would allow such a loud event. She stressed that Del Mar has no control over what happens at the fairgrounds, a state-owned facility governed by a separate board of directors.
“The fairgrounds are a completely separate government entity,” she said. “They regulate their own events. The city has no jurisdiction to permit or regulate what takes place on their property.”
Robin Crabtree, who lives in the beach area of Del Mar and was vocal when sharing concerns about KAABOO, said on Friday night she could hear word-for-word the song lyrics.
She said she called the hot line, got a recording, left a message and received a quick response. She said Saturday was “significantly better,” with the music more of a hum similar to what she hears during the annual county fair. Sunday was back to loud.
Crabtree said she heard few complaints from her neighbors and she was pleasantly surprised by the lack of problems other than noise.
“The luxury buses were taking people back and forth,” she said. “They directed traffic to I-5 away from the residential areas. They were incredibly organized. All in all it was nowhere what we thought it would be.
“But this was only the first year and attendance was less than half of what they expected,” Crabtree added. “We just have to be diligent. It could be a little crazy when they get to 40,000.”
KAABOO organizers have not yet released attendance numbers, and a representative said they might not as that information is rarely disclosed.
They were hoping for 40,000 people a day. Unconfirmed rumors have put the average daily attendance at about 20,000.
Next year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 16 through Sept. 18.