The Symbiosis Gathering will return to Woodward Reservoir near Oakdale in September as the arts and music festival marks its 10-year anniversary.
The gathering will be held during the waning days of summer, Sept. 17-20. Similar to the 2013 festival at Woodward regional park, it will feature music, large-scale art installations, entertainment, gourmet organic food, yoga, dance classes and more.
But this year’s gathering also will feel like a reunion.
“Because it’s our 10th year, we have invited a lot of musicians and artists who were with us from the early days to come back,” producer Kevin KoChen said.
It will be the seventh incarnation of the Symbiosis Gathering, which debuted in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2005. Billed as a fusion of art, eclectic music and workshops for the mind and body, the festival wandered to different sites in California, Nevada and Australia before it was held at Woodward in 2013.
The promoters took a liking to Woodward park, with its 2,900-acre smooth-as-glass reservoir and 3,767 acres of parkland. They could use the site again if the September event goes well.
“It has beautiful, open terrain,” KoChen said. “The water is a fantastic feature, and Woodward Reservoir has beautiful sunrises and sunsets.”
Jami Aggers, county environmental resources director, said the South San Joaquin Irrigation District board decided this week to fill the reservoir for water recreation through the summer. That clears the way for wet activities planned by Symbiosis, including an art boat and swimming.
Festivalgoers are known to express themselves with body painting and hippie attire, engage in native rituals and dance to electronic music not often heard on Central Valley radio stations. The party atmosphere is balanced by lectures on subjects including sustainable living and the future of the planet.
Participants may be expected to attend the entire four-day festival, though the promoters still are considering whether to enforce the rule for local visitors, KoChen said.
He said camping will be closer to the entertainment center this year, and bikes will be allowed in camping areas.
Symbiosis will start selling early-bird tickets Tuesday for $225 per person. The normal price will be $280.
Keith Boggs, county assistant executive officer, said a sound engineer will attend the festival to ensure the music is not a disturbance for residents of the rural area around Woodward.
The county took in around $75,000 in revenue from the 2013 event, which was attended by 8,000 people. Under a new revenue plan, it could receive $120,000 from a $5-per-day park fee if at least 6,000 attend the September gathering.
During the 2013 festival, county officials heard complaints from residents more than a mile away from the festival who were bothered by a low, throbbing sound. Sound tests were conducted last year, and promoters agreed to reconfigure the stages and speakers for the September festival.
In addition, sound barriers will be designed so neighbors in the rural area don’t hear the concerts.
County leaders approved an event permit in September that included requirements for a noise-complaint hotline and daytime noise limits of 95 to 108 decibels. The sound limit will drop 5 decibels at night.
Organizers also worked on measures to prevent long vehicle lines near the entrance to the park, which was another source of complaints in 2013. Symbiosis will have a staging area and monitors to guide festival traffic on 28 Mile Road.
Festival tickets can be purchased at http://symbiosisgathering.com.