Festival expected to be hot
Stage hands for the Green River Festival, members of the IATSE Local 232, erect staging on either side of the stage that will hold speakers for Klondike Sound Co. out of Greenfield, in the heat on Thursday.
Green River Festival volunteer Daniel Cutler organizes and erects signs, mostly made by Nan Parati of Ashfield, at the Greenfield Community College Campus on Thursday.
GREENFIELD — After a week of unrelenting heat, expected daytime temperature of 91 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend might feel comparatively cool to Green River Festivalgoers.
But the 8,000 to 10,000 festival participants — especially on Saturday — should also come prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store.
Saturday’s National Weather Service forecast calls for a high of 91 degrees, partly cloudy, with a 60 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms, mainly between 4 and 10 p.m. Sunday’s high temperature is expected to drop to about 84 degrees.
Festival organizers have also been thinking about extreme heat, lightning storms, and even tornado warnings and are ready with contingency plans for whatever arises, said Ann Hamilton, president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.
That’s just part of the annual preparations made for this event, of music and balloon launches.
“We have an emergency plan in place, in cooperation with Greenfield Community College — but hope we don’t have to use it,” said Hamilton. “We go on, rain or shine. We’ve had all kinds of weather in our 26 years.”
“The last two years, there was a storm south of us and a storm north of us,” she continued. “We were right in the middle, and it missed us.”
“A nice little shower would cool us off and be wonderful,” she remarked. “I don’t think anyone minds getting a little damp.”
A look at weather records over the last five years shows that temperatures in the mid-80s to mid-90s have been fairly common on the July festival days.
In the case of a severe storm, lightning or tornado warnings, the stage would be cleared and the audience told to leave the field, said Hamilton.
Marketing/membership manager Lisa Davol said that, if needed, warnings would be made through announcements on the stage, from police cruisers and by designated staff members at the entrance area and in the parking lots.
For those needing water, an open fire hydrant near the admission area has a water bubbler for drinking, or refilling water bottles. Greenfield Community College will be running a first-aid tent, an ambulance will be on the grounds and the Baystate Franklin Medical Center will be running a “cooling tent,” as it has for the last three years.
Hospital spokeswoman Amy Swisher described the cooling tent as “a safe oasis to be cool in what could be a very hot day, and a very good time.”
“We have two big fans and misting bottles filled with water that people can spray on themselves to increase the effect of the fans,” she explained. “It’s been a great way to connect with the crowd. Some people come back many times over the course of the two days.”
Swisher said the cooling tent also has folding chairs where people can sit, while cooling off and drinking water. The cooling tent also has paper fans that people can take with them to cool themselves later on.
Davol said the safety plan for extreme weather conditions is “probably a little more detailed this year. I think they revise it every year,” she said.
As for possible high heat, “Luckily, there are places of shade,” said Davol. “And people can bring umbrellas if they’re behind a certain line (that doesn’t obstruct others’ view of performers.)
According to the National Disaster Education Coalition, which includes the Red Cross, studies have shown that a significant rise in heat-related illnesses happens when excessive heat lasts more than two days. Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly cuts down on this. Heat exhaustion occurs when people exercise heavily, especially in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion.
During extreme heat, avoid strenuous activity, avoid too much sunshine, and wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Also, drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
There are two options for parking to come to this weekend’s festival. Some of the 1,150 parking spaces at GCC may still be available on Saturday, and that parking costs $10 per day. Parking proceeds will be divided between the festival and GCC’s music program.
Free parking with shuttle bus service will be available at 1 Kimble Drive, (the former Wedgewood Gardens), off Colrain Street. The shuttle buses from that parking area to the college will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277