The Examiner

Crowds Flock to Pleasantville’s 12th Annual Music Festival

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The New Jersey-based rock band The Smithereens perform during Saturday's Pleasantville Music Festival.
The New Jersey-based rock band The Smithereens perform during Saturday’s Pleasantville Music Festival.

The Pleasantville Music Festival proved once again why it is one of the most eagerly anticipated events for the village and thousands of music fans in the tristate area.

Despite overcast skies and the threat of rain that never materialized, several thousand flocked to Parkway Field for the 12th annual festival Saturday afternoon, and nobody seemed disappointed. Fifteen bands, led by Guster, Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, The Revivalists and The Smithereens, performed for nine hours on three stages making it a music lover’s paradise.

“It’s the most enjoyable event that we have on our calendar every year,” said Bob Myers of Brewster, wearing his Smithereens 2011 t-shirt and who came for the 10th consecutive year with his wife wearing. “The music’s always great, the food and the beverages are good. It’s such a great experience that Pleasantville puts up with this every year, with people coming from all over.”

For organizers, confident that this year’s festival would eclipse their previous high of about 7,000 spectators that they moved the main stage back to accommodate more people, pulling off the event didn’t come without its challenges. Advance ticket sales were strong but slowed in the final couple of days as weather forecasts increasingly predicted the chance of heavy thunderstorms, said Bruce Figler, the festival’s executive director.

The decision was made late in the week to erect two large tents to provide covering in case of storms. As it turned out, the event was virtually rain free.

Other changes this year included moving one of the two smaller stages out of the beer garden and enlarging the seating area under the Chill Tent, particularly since the popular Tunstall played her first set earlier in the afternoon in the tent before performing on the main stage shortly after 6 p.m.

With the help of a small army of volunteers who make the event possible, the festival’s benefits far outweigh the headaches, Figler said.

“It puts Pleasantville on the map,” he said. “We’ve got the Burns Film Center and we have great cultural things that go on in this town and I think people are learning that a Pleasantville address means a lot of things, including culture and arts.”

“You can’t come to this and say this isn’t anything but a win-win for the town,” said Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer. “Not only is it a happy vibe for the people that are here but the reaction in my wanderings in various settings, people say ‘Pleasantville, wow, you guys have a great music festival.’ It’s not only a great day but it’s a piece of small town living with a contemporary vibe.”

Scherer said the village is able to track from where the buyers of the advance ticket sales come from, of which there were about 2,000 this year. While many festivalgoers are from Westchester, others come from throughout the metropolitan area and some even make the trek from out of town.

Two of the music fans who traveled to the festival were brothers David and Carl Ligon. David Ligon said he drove down from Warwick, R.I. Friday night while his brother came from Norman, Okla.

A big fan of last year’s headliner, the Gin Blossoms, David Ligon said he discovered the Pleasantville Music Festival when he came across the video in February of the band’s performance at last year’s festival on Youtube. He said the festival looked like great fun on the video and he and his brother decided to be part of it this year.

“It’s fabulous,” Ligon said. “I’ve been just about to every concert you can go to. I’ve lived in California, Miami, Fla., saw Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. This has got a real good feel to it. I go by vibes a lot. This has a very good vibe to it.”

Traveling a shorter distance from Manhattan was Laura Hoffman, who times a visit to friends in Chappaqua to coincide with the weekend of the festival. Saturday was the third consecutive year she attended and she looked forward to The Smithereens’ performance.

“The lineups are always pretty good,” Hoffman said.

Also impressed with the festival were the members of The Smithereens, a New Jersey-based rock band that formed more than 35 years ago and performed on the Main Stage. Lead singer Pat DiNizio said after their performance that the crowd was really into it, singing along with the band, making it an unforgettable experience.

“This is one of the best festivals we’ve played in a long time,” DiNizio said. “I thought that we did a great set, but ultimately it’s about the audience. They made it great.”




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