Sasquatch Festival parking upgrade eyed

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Following last year’s success of the Sasquatch Festival and Calling Contest, Whitehall Chamber of Commerce member Barbara Spoor is hard at work to make the 2022 festival just as great, with an improved parking scheme.

Spoor attended the Village Board’s June meeting to update the board about the day, discussing some issues the festival had last year and asking for suggestions on how to fix parking.

“We had a parking map, I went all out last year and had a map of the whole place showing parking, bathrooms, and more signs up throughout the area,” she said.

One of the biggest struggles for the last festival was parking. Both chamber member Dana Grant and Mayor Julie Eagan said they need to work on a parking plan. With roughly 3,000 attendees in 2021, Skenesborough Drive had packed parallel parking on both sides of the road.

“Last year, pretty much as it started there was a fire… I was going to stop by to see how things were going and by the time I got to the corner to head towards the parks, there were fire trucks, there were cars, and everybody was confused about which way to go or what they should do. I thought at that moment to remember it and bring it up for the following year,” Eagan.

Grant said he heard complaints from festival-goers about parking being $5 on the grass right next to Skenesborough Park. He said that the price of parking is to help with festival funding.

“That’s how we manage the parking and flow. Last year, we had to block off the flow halfway through the event because it was overwhelming. There’s no place to put all of the people that come,” he said.

One idea mentioned by Eagan was the possibility of shuttling people into the festival rather than letting them search for parking. However, that will be another added expense to the festival the chamber will need to budget for.

“We won’t be able to shuttle the handicapped so if they park near the event and others were shuttled in, we could utilize the flow of the one-way traffic,” he said.

Grant claims the best way to get control of traffic would be to have traffic on Skenesborough Drive to Main Street be one-way for the day. That and making the parking closest to the park handicap-only. Eagan also agreed to the idea as it’s best to keep Route 4 clear of traffic, so a problem doesn’t evolve with the state.

“If we start messing up the flow of traffic on a state highway, then they’ll put the clamps to us. The event has become so big that I think we need to designate parking somewhere and run a shuttle. A lot of big events do that,” Eagan said.

“This has been a learning experience for us because we’ve never had an event of this capacity. We’re open to communicating with the village on whatever we need to do, we just have to do it,” Spoor said.

Spoor said the beer garden will return to the village park.

“We would like to do the beer garden again in Riverside Park this year,” she said.

Saratoga Draft Horse was the selected vendor for last year, but she said a vendor is yet to be determined. The board approved the beer garden, so long as correct permits and insurance are submitted with the application for park usage.

“I don’t know how many board members were at the festival last year, but it was more than adults in the park last year. Parents would sit down with their kids while eating lunch and it was nice. We had zero problems… everyone seemed to love it,” Spoor said.