Mountain Jam was an experience that I won’t soon forget.
I saw some incredible bands, rubbed elbows with some wonderful people, and musically speaking, the festival was beyond my expectations.
The sound quality was better than any outdoor festival I’ve ever attended, the stages and facilities were well appointed. It was exceedingly obvious to me, that anything that had to do with the music was overseen by someone meticulous who LOVED music and was 100% dedicated to delivering a series of shows that would be second to none in quality.
The shows ran completely on time and transitions from one stage to the next were seamless. The stages themselves were huge, beautiful, well lit and positioned so that the natural slope of the mountain provided a theatre-like slope resulting in unobstructed views of the stage no matter where you were standing.
Did I mention the sound quality?!!?? Mind blowingly awesome.
Hunter Mountain is a beautiful venue to host this yearly event, with facilities that handled the thousands of concertgoers easily. Flushing toilets, hot water, and showers were accessible, and very well maintained, considering the crowds.
I have much praise for event. That being said, there is tremendous room for improvement in a number of areas that have nothing at all to do with the music, but that are, nonetheless, very important.
Security. Yes, I understand that this festival may attract thousands of love-filled hippy-type good people, at the same time, there was a serious lack of security, and people who were ready and took full advantage.
Although I cannot attest to this with 100% certainty as it did not happen to me personally, I did talk to a number of people who told me that “hundreds” of tents had been robbed over the course of the weekend. Even if the numbers were inflated, the fact that a team of people was able to rob even a few tents isn’t acceptable.
A lack of lighting, full access by anyone in a car, and no security whosoever in the parking lots, especially at night, made the venture to the car in the dark, the most stressful part of the day. Anyone walking alone or even in a small group could have been at risk of being robbed or worse. Unfortunately, I can attest to this with 100% certainty as my camera bag was stolen from the parking lot.
The chaos that ensued as I tried to track down my bag gave me a unique perspective into just how disorganized some key elements of this festival were.
I learned that there were 2 different security teams policing Mountain Jam, Mountain Jam hired one, while the other was resort security – essentially protecting the property. While they could radio each other, there seemed to be a real gap in terms of how to handle any kind of crisis.
I was given so much conflicting information by security personnel who truly meant well but were not helpful at all.
I was brought from room to room by different staff members as they checked rooms where the bag “may” be have been brought if some kind person had found it discarded.
It was around 11:10 on Saturday night.
The shows went until almost 4am – but the one central Lost and Found location closed at 11pm.
There was a sign with a telephone number and email address.
I left 5 voice mail messages that were never returned. Not exactly stellar service here, guys.
Finally, I went to the Hunter Police Department, who referred me back to the mobile police unit that had been set up on Hunter Mountain to deal with arrests that occurred at the festival. At no time did any of the security personnel mention to me that there was a police station on site.
It was very disappointing to say the least, and I struggled with how I was going to deal with this article.
On one hand, the music was absolutely incredible, the vendors offered a wide choice of really great food for fair prices, the facilities were adequate to support the numbers of people, the stages & sound were brilliant…so musically speaking it was everything you could ask for in a music festival.
On the other hand, the festival, in my books, gets a huge FAIL for some easily remedied administrative problems that compromised the safety and security of its clients. If the people responsible for security and general well being of concert-goers were half as meticulous as the team of people overseeing all of the music & stage – we’d have a winning combination….but for now…there’s still a lot of work to do.
I’ve deliberated about this, and will be sharing my suggestions/impressions with the event’s main organizer in the hopes that my feedback might help bring about some of the necessary changes to make this event more secure and enjoyable for its clients.
My advice for people who might want to go check it out in the future?
If you’re driving – get there early so that you have a chance of getting a parking space that is at least somewhat lit. Do NOT leave anything of value in your car.
Carry only what you absolutely need. When I eventually spoke to the lady responsible for the Lost & Found, in person, she was very sympathetic for my loss and told me that she was beside herself with the number of cameras that she’d heard had been stolen during the festival. She said that she wasn’t sure if it was the economy but she’d never seen so many people who were reporting things that were being stolen.
Don’t camp. If you do, be sure to bring only what you need & keep anything valuable on your body at all times. There’s an amazing inn called “Lookout Point” a 12 minute drive away. The prices are amazing, the rooms are clean & comfy, food & drink are delicious, the view from the main dining room is jaw-droppingly spectacular and the hosts are the best you could ask for. http://www.pointlookoutinn.com/
Don’t try to buy any drugs. Not pot. Not ecstasy. Nothing. We saw several teenagers in the on-site police station getting arrested and processed for trying to buy a pill or a joint. The smell of skunkweed permeated the festival – it was everywhere and likely created the impression of a permissive environment…but as some kids learned…it was anything BUT permissive.
Overall, if you are ready to enjoy an incredible musical experience and are willing to be alert, attentive and guarded at all times, then put Mountain Jam on your “to do” list.
To read more about Ashton click HERE