DUANESBURG Camp Bisco is coming back.
The three-day electronica festival headlined by the Disco Biscuits and drawing tens of thousands of fans each year will return to the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville in mid-July, organizers announced Thursday.
Tickets for the event put on by MCP Presents will be going on sale early next month, and organizers expect it to be comparable in size to last year’s festival.
“It will be business as usual for Camp Bisco,” promoter Chad Shearer said in an email. “That means top-notch artists from across the globe, interactive elements across the grounds, community and just an amazing festival experience from top to bottom.”
The announcement quickly dispelled swirling rumors suggesting the festival might be cancelled or could head to another venue due to its burgeoning size. Some fans attending last year’s event openly doubted the festival would return for a seventh consecutive year, citing the demise of other massive festivals that gradually outgrew the idyllic, 200-acre, private venue on Batter Street.
But Shearer said Bisco received a generally positive response from fans and community last year, which convinced them to return for another summer. He said the event seems to have an indelible connection with Indian Lookout and the hope was always to return to the site, provided there was still support from the community and Bisco’s fan base.
“Our anticipation is that it is always going to happen, as long as we have the support of the community and the fans,” he said later in a phone interview.
Shearer said a list of performers should be announced within a couple of weeks. Camp Bisco is already advertising “more than 100 acts from around the globe” starting July 11, including several performances by the Disco Biscuits, the jamtronica band that founded the festival in 1999.
“We’ve already proven this is a world-renowned festival,” he said. “I think what we’re trying to do now is make it better.”
Though still in the planning stages, the festival is expected to have a similar format to the event last year. Shearer said the traffic plan and bus system that helped divert a sizeable percentage of fan vehicles to off-site parking areas seemed to greatly mitigate the negative impact the festival had on the Mariaville Lake community in 2011.
Camp Bisco has both its supporters and opponents in the sleepy hamlet and elsewhere in Schenectady County. Proponents argue the festival with its droves of fans and support staff is a financial windfall for businesses throughout the Capital Region.
Organizers have given varying accounts of the number of people Bisco draws annually. They agreed to cap sales at 12,000 tickets last year and claimed they sold out all three days, but an unofficial account given to The Daily Gazette placed the total attendance at upward of 30,000 people.
Those who oppose the festival have questioned whether the town should support an event that seems to readily embrace the hard drug culture. The festival produced dozens of drug arrests and overdoses last year, including one death.
A toxic cocktail of Xanax, Hydrocodone and alcohol was said to have killed Bily Graumann, an avid Bisco fan who was helping to set up the Color Wars event at the festival. Friends last saw the 29-year-old New Jersey man stumbling to his tent during the late evening and found him dead the following morning, according to state police.
Last year’s event also spurred legal action from the family members of a Schenectady woman left in a coma after becoming ill at the festival. The notice of claim filed on behalf of 24-year-old Heather Bynum in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County in November accuses the town and Bisco promoters of being unprepared to deal with medical emergencies at the privately owned venue.
Several residents have also complained about the drug culture they perceive as being an integral part of Bisco. Some have spoken out against the event during Town Board meetings, warning of the dangers posed by a festival with such prevalent drug use and questioning whether the on-site medical staff is capable of caring for the inevitable rush of overdoses within the crowd.
Shearer said the electronic dance music scene is often painted with a broad brush and drugs aren’t nearly as prevalent as they are sometimes portrayed. He also contested the notion that the Indian Lookout staff wasn’t able to care for the crowds that annually attend Bisco.
“The security and emergency medical technicians are head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever seen at these events,” he said.