For the past three months leading up to the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach last weekend, organizer Allen Sanford said he and fellow event planners were putting in extremely long hours, sometimes 16-hour workdays.
For Sanford and others on his small team, most of whom grew up in the South Bay, there was a lot riding on the success of the city’s first ever three-day music festival. They felt their reputations were on the line, he said.
“You just have an added pressure. I can’t even explain in words how intense it was,” Sanford said Tuesday, May 7, as the last of the staging and other materials were being cleared from the site in front of the Seaside Lagoon.
Now that’s it over and Sanford had a chance to reflect, he said the event was a resounding success. Medical emergencies and arrests were minimal. Traffic was not overwhelming. And local businesses mostly saw a surge in customers. They did run out of a few beer and wine choices on the last day, however.
“We are unbelievably proud of it,” Sanford said. “I’m pretty humbled by the feedback we’re getting.”
With roughly 10,000 people streaming through the gates each day, Sanford would not say whether the first year’s event was a financial success.
“Let’s just say we’ve already put out a headliner offer for next year,” Sanford said.
Police made just three arrests related to the festival, each for drunk-in-public outside the venue, said Police Chief Keith Kauffman.
“Overall, we were amazed at how few problems there were,” Kauffman said.
The Fire Department, meanwhile, handled 19 calls for service — mostly related to drugs and alcohol — from within the venue and one emergency response call for an individual at the Crowne Plaza hotel across the street.
“We had some people who got some traumatic injuries from falling or running into things, but nothing we would consider a real acute medical emergency,” said Fire Chief Robert Metzger. “I thought by and large the promoters did a great job in how they set it up.”
Although the city granted Sanford and his company, Sanford Ventures, the ability to host two music festivals per year beginning this year and extending for the next decade, Sanford said the BeachLife Festival would remain an annual springtime event. He said he plans to run a Fall event, though he has not decided on a theme or a name yet or whether it will occur for the first time this year or next.
“I don’t have enough community feedback yet on whether we will pull the trigger for the Fall,” he said. “We will make that decision in the next few weeks.”
Sanford expects in about a month to deliver an economic impact report to the city, commissioned to a third party, detailing the festival’s effect on local businesses. Anecdotal reports suggest business was mixed with some pier area establishments receiving normal traffic while some hotels, bars and restaurants got a significant boost.
Michael Zislis, who owns Shade Hotel Redondo Beach, said the festival was like having three days of Fourth of July, typically one of the hotel’s biggest days in terms of revenues.
“The BeachLife Festival brought an incredible surge of energy and awareness to Redondo Beach,” Zislis said.
At The Slip Bar and Eatery on the International Boardwalk, crowds filtered in after the festival each night after 9 p.m. giving the bar an above average turnout for a weekend.
“We were super busy,” said part-owner Rashel Mereness. “Everyone was having such a great time.”
The R10 Social House and Captain Kidd’s Fish Market also enjoyed good crowds, said George Loren, a partner in both ventures.
“We feel that the BeachLife Festival had a great impact on the local businesses all weekend. It’s like Redondo Beach has a new identity,” Loren said.
But not every business received a bump. Quality Seafood manager Jeff Jones said the fish market had a fairly normal crowd.
“We did expect to have some runoff from the festival,” Jones said. “Overall, when it all boils down and we look at the first two days of the event, our sales are right on track with our normal sales of what we would expect.”
For those who opposed the waterfront redevelopment deal that would have created a 525,000 square-foot development on the property, the festival represented bragging rights.
Mayor Bill Brand said it showcased the “fun-loving community of Redondo Beach and the whole South Bay.”
“We look forward to many partnerships like this to help create a vibrant future for Redondo Beach,” Brand said, “without turning us into yet another overdeveloped beach community.”
—Michael Hixon contributed