Capitol Hill Block Party organizers in scramble to add third day to music fest – UPDATE

Organizers of the Capitol Hill Block Party are scrambling today to muster community support for adding an additional day of rock n roll and hip hop to the 2010 edition of the annual music festival, according to a City of Seattle official.

According to Virgina Swanson who heads up the special events permitting process for the city, Block Party organizers came to her to request that a third day be added to the event’s permit which currently allows for the festival to take over the streets in central Pike/Pine on Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24. Before the third date will be permitted, Swanson said organizers must show “significant” community support for the extra day.

“We won’t permit it unless the majority of the businesses and residents sign off,” Swanson told CHS. Swanson said organizers must bring the city a sheet with collected signatures from people they have talked to indicating their support — or non support — for the addition.

According to Swanson, Block Party organizers Dave Meinert and Grady Chapman are out beating the pavement of Pike/Pine today in a rush to gather community support from businesses and residents that will be affected by adding a third day to the popular festival. She said organizers have asked for a special meeting on Friday with her to discuss the third day because a major act’s participation in the Block Party hinges on a Sunday appearance.

“We’re going to meet with them tomorrow and see what he produces,” Swanson said of Meinert’s signature drive. “They’re up against a real tight timeline. They’re out there all over the community today.”

One place they are not, however, is the Internet. A search of the Fuzed Music and Capitol Hill Block Party marketing and communication sites and accounts doesn’t turn up any mention of the community outreach. And the group didn’t turn to Block Party presenter The Stranger to get the word out either. CHS found out about the scramble from a person who attended a community meeting where Meinert made his pitch.

We’ll contact Meinert and Chapman to ask them more about the Sunday addition and update this post when we know more.

If Meinert and Chapman don’t make it your way, you can e-mail Swanson at virginia.swanson@seattle.gov with your message or support — or non support — for the Sunday addition.

Beyond concerns about impacts to the businesses and residents of adding a third day of street closures, crowds and noise, Swanson said she is also concerned about a plan for the extra day of the festival to go until 10 PM on a Sunday. We wrote about some of the community gripes about CHBP last summer.

The summer party of loud music and good times on the streets of Pike/Pine draws more than 10,000 people to Capitol Hill to hear an eclectic mix of national, local — and local heroes gone national! — acts. It is organized by Meinert’s Fuzed Music, a Hill based music management and consulting company and sponsored by The Stranger, KEXP, Caffe Vita, Miller Highlife and several other national and local brands. Last year, advance tickets cost $22 per day. There is no price information on the CHBP Web site for the 2010 festival and the links to vendor TicketsWest were broken.

UPDATE 3:58 PM:
CHS spoke with organizer Dave Meinert this afternoon about the effort to secure a permit from the city that will allow a third day for the annual Capitol Hill Block Party.

“There’s a demand to make the Block Party bigger,” Meinert said. “We don’t really want to make it bigger as far as booking bigger bands or taking up more space. But adding a day accomplishes that.”

Meinert told CHS he expects the third day would draw an additional 5,000 to 6,000 people to the Hill for the weekend pushing attendance over the 20,000 mark. That would be a boon for the festival, local businesses that benefit from it — but also an increase in the negative aspects of the event like noise and trash.

Meinert said he has documented the support of 27 area business for Friday’s meeting with members of the city’s Special Events Committee. Getting residential support? That’s another story.

“It’s difficult to reach the people that live around here,” Meinert said. He gave an example of the condo building across the street where he wasn’t even able to find somebody to buzz him in. “It’s a challenge but we’ve already had a dialogue with people who live in one building that will improve the experience.” Meinert said that after talking with a resident, he thinks there’s a way to make adjustments to one of the three stages to reduce the impact of noise on residents in one particularly impacted building.

Meinert said he’s also ready to go farther to make the Party work with mitigation solutions like offering up hotel rooms for the weekend, free tickets and freebies at local businesses. “A lot of the people who live here, go,” Meinert said about residential support for CHBP. “We want it to work for people who don’t.”

Meinert might also face renewed opposition from businesses in the area that feel left out of the Block Party process. We’ve heard about a few business owners who plan to use this opportunity to have a better dialogue about their needs with festival organizers.

As for the scramble to document support this week, Meinert said he’s been asking for the city to make a decision on the third Block Party day since March but that he had to push for a meeting this week as a decision on a big headliner loomed. “The decision is going to be made tomorrow,” Meinert said, even if the city doesn’t decide on the permit. “If we don’t know tomorrow, we lose them.”

Still, Meinert said, if the third day isn’t approved this year, organizers will work to include it in the plans for 2011 and beyond. “We don’t want to be Bumbershoot. We don’t want to be Sasquatch,” Meinert said. “But there’s a demand for more.”

You can read Meinert in his own words in the comment below for more. He said he planned to contact CHS about the situation after talking to a local organization and residents that said they get their news about the neighborhood from the site. We just beat him to it.

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29 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Block Party organizers in scramble to add third day to music fest – UPDATE

  1. Hey there, the above story is true. Due a lot of demand by festival goers and bands who want to perform, we’re looking into adding a 3rd day to the festival. Unfortunately, do to the way the permitting goes in Seattle, we are in a bit of a rush to get community feedback. The overwhelming majority of neighborhood businesses very much support another day, though a few don’t. Many Capitol Hill residents do as well, but I assume many also won’t. Either way, we’re part of your community and you are part of ours, and we’d like to hear from you. So if you have a feeling of being for or against adding a 3rd day, and/or what time you think it should go to, email us at press@capitolhillblockparty.com or fax to 206-374-2700.

    The 2010 Block Party is July 23 & 24, possibly also Sunday July 25. On Friday the 23rd, we open the gates at 3:00 pm, music starts at 4:30pm, the mainstage outside ends at midnight and the music continues at Neumos until 2am. Saturday the 24th, we open the gates at 1:00 pm, music starts at 2:00pm, the mainstage outside ends at midnight and the music continues at Neumos until 2am. If we add the 25th, we would open at 1pm, start music at 2pm and end the outdoor stages at either 9pm or 10pm.

    We’ll announce the lineup June 1, and tickets will go on sale June 4.

    Partial proceeds go to support KEXP and The Vera Project.

  2. Everyone can use the money, big plus.

    Two days of disruption is plenty, that is bad.

    Noise is horrible, bad. Is it the music or the drinking that is a lure??

    Send the overflow bands to Hemp Fest?

  3. Capitol Hill is young…hip. Yes and no. Thee are many who are old in age if not heart. How about one venue that features some music of a different type for the chronologically challenged? Capitol Hill is supposed to be about diversity.

  4. I live right on the outside edge of the area and would be concerned about Sunday night noise. Even if it ends around 10pm, there will no doubt be loud drunk people wandering around much later. So it would be nice if it ended earlier on Sunday. Those of us that have to get up early for work on Monday will be much happier.

  5. Dark Time Sunshine would be a GREAT group to see on the 3rd day of the Capital Hill Block Party if its made a GO. That’s all… GOOD DAY.

  6. I live a couple blocks north of Pine so I’m not impacted by the noise or anything, but I’ve been going to the block party since its first year and I’m definitely in favor of a third day.

  7. I support this. Sunday is also a “weekend” day, and even as debaucherous as the Block Party already is, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. I understand that people live up here, but part of what makes Capitol Hill an interesting place to live is that events like this are allowed to happen and are overwhelmingly successful. It doesn’t seem so imposing if it ends earlier in the evening on Sunday, either, as proposed.

  8. Capitol Hill is a diverse, arts-forward area, and should take every opportunity to display its proud stripes. The proceeds from this go to incredibly important causes in our community. Yes, yes, yes.

  9. A little noise is part of life on the hill… anyone who lives here knows that… but we are the heart and soul of this city and what we get for sacrificing a few noisy moments is WELL worth it! Living on the hill is near to what I imagine it must have been like living in the Haight during the 60s. It’s amazing to hear a protest forming in the streets outside of your apartment and just get up and join… to have the best nightlife just outside of your own front door… to live in such a (mostly) welcoming community… (and to have the CHS blog to keep us all informed). I hope I never lose my love for this place and I hope I never forget all that is so important to me here. BRING ON A THIRD DAY! And help out our local artists and businesses! Love to all.

  10. Partially because I work at KEXP, but also because I hear so many stories from folks in the years between Block Parties about how they discovered band x or y. It’s really hard to discover special artists actually, and being able to have genuine music lovers do all this work to put them in front of you is, in my personal view, excellent for the common good.

  11. The only people that it has ever benefited is Meinert and his partners. I am trying to understand how fencing off the small businesses, asking them to pay a fee and a percentage of their sales is really benefiting them or the community. Each year there are larger and larger corporate sponsors, I am wondering which businesses he has actually talked to? 12 of the businesses on Pike didn’t even know there was a community meeting and that they had already started moving towards making it happen. Why aren’t they holding it at Cal Anderson park where there is more space easier access and they would not be impeding on the existing businesses.

  12. Sara,,

    I’m not sure where you get your info but you’re a little off.

    First, as many, many of the local businesses (but admittedly and of course not all) can attest, many of them benefit greatly from the Block Party. In about 3 hours Tuesday we were able to get 27 different neighborhood businesses to sign off on and support adding a 3rd day. And NONE of the businesses pay a fee or a percentage of sales, that is something you are completely making up.

    Second, there was no “community” meeting – the meeting mentioned somewhat improperly in the article was a meeting with the Special Events Committee that issues licenses for events like the Block Party.

    Third, we actually had fewer and smaller sponsors in 2009 than we did in 2008, and this year I don’t think we’ll have any more than last year. We strive to keep the event independent, but also be able to pay the bands and the bills. Lastly, the event also directly benefits groups like KEXP and The Vera Project, and we strive to support progressive politicians who are pro music by giving their campaigns space and having politicians talk on stage before bands perform.

    Lastly, I agree with you on one point – let’s move the event to the park! We have tried to do this for several years and have always been denied. But I agree it might make more sense.

    We don’t expect that everyone will love this festival. Not everyone loves anything. But we do hope and try to provide a great event for many people in Capitol Hill, and hope we can mitigate the negative impact on those who don’t like it.

  13. Absolutely.

    Although there is always a lot of great music on the two days, there
    is a lot more great local musicians who could be showcased if the
    festival opened up a third day. Perhaps end it earlier on Sunday. Jazz Fest in New Orleans ends every day at 7, and they still manage
    to have a great fest.

  14. I think a third day makes sense. I live in the neighborhood, off of Pike/Pine a few blocks to the West and I have attended 4 out of the last 6 years. I will attend again this year. However, I think that ending earlier on Sunday – say 8 or 9 PM is imperative out of respect for those of us who live in the area and work early Monday morning. Face it, noise will filter past the cut off time. It’s the way these things go. I think the proposal to close with a mellower band makes sense if it ends past 9 AM. I think 10 is too late.

    I have had friends travel from out of town and from across the region to attend this festival/block party. We’ve spent money in the hood and had a blast. I commend Meinert and Co. for addressing the circulation and staging issues that became problematic in past years. Continue to listen to and respond to that community and participant feedback. And make sure to find a way to notify and engage the area residents, whether in condos or apts, business and property owners. It’s critical. Without their support the whole thing is SOL.

  15. Urging for another day of fun, music and benefit to the community in many ways. Agree that some things need to be addressed; i.e., residents who are unable to navigate their own neighborhood and even condos. But the benefits outweigh 3 days of the whole year. I personally know of several bands who would cherish being able to play at The Block Party. Unable to in the past because of lack of space and time. Perhaps better control at the beer gardens? Perhaps stopping at, say, 7 p.m. on Sunday night? Love shopping the stores and specials that weekend while listening to a diversified bunch of music!

  16. yeah, great idea. Seattle is a great vinue. The more the merrier.Seattle musics rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Patrick Kinnaman

  17. I would like to express my support of allowing Capitol Hill Block Party a third day.

    The Block Party allows VERA to provide unique career building experience to young people learning skills in event production, and quite literally puts some of our most talented youth on their future paths. Having more opportunity for young people to build their production resumes is a thrilling prospect.

    My fingers are crossed!

    Josh Powell
    Program Director
    The Vera Project

  18. “How about one venue that features some music of a different type for the chronologically challenged? Capitol Hill is supposed to be about diversity.”

    Care to mention something “different”? Care to mention what you don’t like? It’s not like Sonic Youth and the Jesus Lizard were a bunch of teenyboppers, you know.

  19. Fully in support of a third day of the Capitol Hill Block Party. Having attended most years, I am quite familiar. This event is really well-run and always a good time. I love that David and Grady and company keep thinking of ways to make it even better year after year. I absolutely support a third day: it’s good for Capitol Hill businesses and it’s good for our community overall. And it benefits the Vera Project and KEXP. Yay for that.

  20. There are soooo many bands in this city, it’s a fact. So if there’s a chance that my band (Slender Means) or some other great band that hasn’t played a big festival yet, could get the chance to play, I think adding an extra day is a great idea.

    -Dave

  21. I support this 100% I crave music, and I crave new music. Capitol Hill Block Party is one of the best ways in Seattle not only as a listener to hear new music and the music you love, but also for the new bands to start out and have their name heard. I think adding Sunday would end up being very successful, and having it end at 9 or 10 would be perfectly appropriate for a Sunday night.
    I vote yes to Sunday.

  22. Why not try it out and see how it goes? If it doesn’t work don’t do it next year.
    I love this idea!

  23. I love Capitol Hill Block Party!!! Its always very saddening when it ends and I would love there to be music on Sunday as well!!! There are tons of amazing bands in the Seattle area that you wouldn’t hear otherwise if it weren’t for this event. I think we should totally give them a chance!!!

  24. listening to kexp i’ve gained at least 20 artists that i hadn’t heard and love now. kexp at work is seriously the best thing ever.

  25. why hasnt this been proposed in the past?? it was always weird to end on sat and have sunday left all alone and sad. sunday knows its a weekend day but his brothers wont let him come out and play. que triste.

    if you live on the hill its a given that traffic/noise is gonna happen, especially in the summer when people are out and about tanning their pale skin and tattooed leafless trees and sparrows. i do wish the city would allow for cal anderson to host the party, it makes more sense. what a nightmare it must be to plan stages, routing of people in pike/pine area.

    hope the third day happens and you land a big band, thanks for organizing this!

  26. music is horrible except for 2% of it; most of it is very loud and obnoxious!
    2 days is plenty
    mostly benifiting those who consume or sell drinks.
    Plenty of us that live nearby don’t like the noise level, massive amount of drunk people and more trash every where.

  27. As a former street festival organizer (in Cambridge MA) and Cap Hill resident I whole heartedly support the addition of another day to the block party. These types of events give a city life. The negative impact on residents of the area is not to be dismissed… but bringing a community together for fun and art creates long lasting memories that outweigh a few hours of inconvenience. A possible concession to neighbors could be to offer residents discounted or free admission?
    I have written Ms. Swanson in support!