X-Fest crowd goes home without trouble

Jon Siebels of Eve 6 rocks out at the annual X-Fest in downtown Modesto, Calif., Saturday, July 19, 2008.  (Alison D. Yin/The Modesto Be
Jon Siebels of Eve 6 rocks out at the annual X-Fest in downtown Modesto, Calif., Saturday, July 19, 2008. (Alison D. Yin/The Modesto Be Modesto Bee

The sold-out crowd at this ninth annual Xclamation Festival in downtown Modesto went home without too much commotion as the outdoor concert ended with fewer arrests than last year, police said.

About 20 people were arrested Saturday at X-Fest, mostly for public intoxication, said Modesto police Detective Steven Stanfield, who was tallying the numbers at the department’s mobile command post near the festival.

Last year’s X—Fest resulted in 32 arrests, and the festival in 2006 ended with 24 arrests.

While Saturday afternoon was warm, the night brought in a cool breeze with the temperature dropping to the mid-60s by the time most people were on their way home from the festival, according to the Modesto Irrigation District.

Stanfield said the weather might have had a little to do with the arrests numbers. He said the night was much cooler than last year, which possibly eased any tension.

“It was busy; it was a lot of (public safety) resources for a big crowd,” Stanfield.

The total number of attendees was unavailable early Sunday, but Stanfield said the festival was sold-out and possibly reached a crowd-size similar to last year with nearly 16,000 people attending.

Before entering the grounds, festivalgoers were patted down and had their identification checked and bags searched. No weapons, gang attire, chairs or outside food and drinks were allowed. One sealed bottle of water was permitted per person.

The temperature was in the mid-90s as the gates opened at 5 p.m. The music kicked off at 6 p.m., and the festival featured about 50 bands on eight stages.

X-Fest fans soaked up the music as regional and big-name acts performed. The last performers on outdoor stages finished at 1 a.m., and all alcohol sales ended at midnight.

By 1:30 a.m., a large majority of the crowd had been ushered out of the area by lines of officers on horseback, bicycles and in riot helmets started trying to move the crowds.

At 1 a.m., anyone who was not in a bar or nightclub was supposed to leave. Those who had managed to get inside a nightclub were allowed to stay until the businesses closed at 2 a.m., but one nightclub had to close a little earlier than expected.

About 1:30 a.m., a fight broke out at the Copper Rhino on 10th Street and ended with at least two men with pepper spray in their eyes. It wasn’t clear who used the pepper spray to subdue the two men.

The scuffle resulted in the nightclub closing about 20 minutes early. A group of Modesto police officers waited outside the nightclub to make sure the customers went home and didn’t wander downtown.

“It hasn’t been all that bad, except for this cluster here that’s causing some commotion,” said Modesto police Lt. Ron Cloward while standing outside the Copper Rhino after the fight.

Cloward was in charge of coordinating Saturday’s law enforcement effort. Event organizers employed 200 private security officers and paid for an additional 100 local law enforcement officials to patrol the festival during X-Fest’s seven-hour run.

Officials from Modesto police, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, along with the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Alcoholic Beverage Control was on hand to keep the peace.

The crowds fluctuated in size throughout the night, and most of the festivalgoers who remained after midnight enjoyed the final hour of the event on J and 10th streets.

“For the most part, people enjoyed themselves,” Cloward said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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