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July 15, 2013

Concert turns C'town into Dead haven

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The sounds of the band Further boomed from Doubleday Field in Cooperstown on Sunday night, culminating an afternoon of souvenir and foods sales along “Shakedown Street,” a marketplace that travels with the Grateful Dead legacy band. 

Ticketholders and would-be concertgoers looking for a “miracle” free ticket for admission hovered around the parking lots of the ball field and Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. The odor of beer mixed with smoke as people moved among the crowded stalls. Along with contemporary casual summer attire, some fans wore tie-dyed clothing, bandanas and beads.

Further features original Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. At Shakedown Street, Grateful Dead fans sell shirts, stuffed bears and other goods.

Cooperstown Police Chief Mike Covert said the department was following its plan for security and crowd control. The lots started filling with vendors at 8 a.m., he said, and 12 hours later, no criminal problems had developed and no arrests had been made. 

Officials made some accommodations for Sunday’s Dead crowd, such as allowing beer to be sold inside the stadium and consumed in the parking lot. Ticket sales figures weren’t available Sunday night, but tickets were being sold for $60 at the entrance.

By 6 p.m., parking spaces in the village were at a premium, with signs advertising residential spaces for $20. Two men from Vermont stood in the will-call line at 7:30 p.m., a half-hour after the concert started. But they said they were happy to add to the count of Further and more-than-100 Grateful Dead concerts they had attended.
 
A previous visitor to Cooperstown for other events, Crawford said he appreciated that the village had welcomed a different crowd. But he had doubts of an encore.
 
"It will be the first and last," Crawford predicted. 
 
Margaret Savoie, broker/owner of Don Olin Realty adjacent to the Chamber parking lot, had opened the business's small lawn to guests for a buffet. By 7 p.m., they could hear Further performing. 
 
The crowds and vehicles had created some access issues, Savoie said, but the crowd had been pleasant and polite. 
 
"I hope people can appreciate there are a whole bunch of different people in the rainbow world," she said. 
 
Helmut Michelitsch, who on event days sells food from in front of his laundry business on Doubleday Plaza, said Cooperstown's effort to seek a variety of tourists is good for business. As a tourism center, Cooperstown relies on summer visitors, he said. 
 
"We like all kinds of crowds," he said. "We love these types of events." 

As the concert continued, and the sun set, state police and Otsego County deputies, who had been covering the perimeters, were arriving to assist with crowd dispersal.

But up to that point, smiles and friendly crowds had been the tone of the day, said Covert, who said he has been to three Grateful Dead concerts. At 9:30 p.m., a man at a local restaurant stood in the doorway and said police had made an arrest for drugs. Covert said state police did make an arrest during the event, but no details were available. Medical crews responded to a few calls, but no major injuries or incidents were reported.  

‘‘The people are beautiful — the vibe is very friendly,’’ said Karen Katz, wife of the Cooperstown mayor, who said she had taken advantage of the opportunity to buy clothes not usually found for sale in the village, including a skirt made of recycled neckties.

Another business owner, who requested anonymity, objected to some of the access granted to Shakedown Street vendors. 

John, a vendor who gave his first name only, said he had been to many venues during 15 years on Shakedown Street and liked being in Cooperstown. Two officers walked by doing their job and smiling, and John said that was a welcome sign.

“This is a very accommodating town,” John said. “I kind of hope they invite us back next year.”

Before the concert, several Dead fans throughout the crowd raised their hands, holding up a single finger to indicate they needed a free ticket for admission.

“I already have one,” said a woman, who withheld her name. But her hand remained raised because she was looking for another ticket for her friend, who also had his finger in the air. 

“This is called getting a miracle,” the woman said. Gifts of tickets aren’t unusual, she said. 

“You get them all the time,” she said. “It’s good luck.”