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February 15, 2013

OH-Fest returns to Neahwa Park* for 2013

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — The OH-Fest concert will be returning to Neahwa Park this spring. Alternative pop band The Ready Set and hip-hop artist Outasight are among the performers scheduled to appear at the free April 27 concert, organizers said.

The annual concert that is part of the collaboration between State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick was moved back on campus in 2012, following issues with the event in 2011.

“We worked hard with the city partners” to get the concert back in the park, Bill Harcleroad, director of campus activities and SUNY Oneonta Student Association Activities Council advisor said. This involved hiring private security that Main Street Oneonta, a downtown promotion group, is helping fund, he said.

Harcleroad said he was looking forward to having “an event the whole community can be a part of.”

Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor said having licensed private security is one the contingencies that have to be approved before the concert. It was not expected to be a problem.

It will free his force that took care of this role two years ago, to focus on community safety. If something had developed “our resources were spread too thin” to do their job, he said.

The planning has been going on for several months. He is “a big proponent” of working with colleges and interested parties for “community-friendly events.” At the same time “we need to make sure safety needs are met,” he said.

SUNY Oneonta SAAC President MaryBeth Carswell, a senior, said the day will start as always with a downtown carnival. The schedule has not been finalized, including opening acts in the park.

The budget for the entire day was limited this year to $80,000, she said, from the student activity fee, adding that it had been more in recent years.

This made it a hard process, but working with the Hartwick Campus Activity Board, a student opinion survey helped with the selection. The top genre was pop alternative, which led to booking The Ready Set, she said. Outasight was part of a package deal. The survey showed the importance students placed on having the concert in the park

“We wanted to make sure it was family friendly so it could be downtown,” she said.

“The Ready Set is a fun band you can chill and relax to. People love an outdoor concert,” she said. “It’s a great way to unite (SUNY) Oneonta, Hartwick (College) and the city. I hope the students and the town enjoy it.”

Mayor Dick Miller said two council members were involved with the planning and were satisfied with the steps taken to address any issues. He was confident this will be a well-run event. “I am looking forward to it.”

*Editor's note: The headline on this story was changed at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 19 to reflect the correct location of the 2013 event.