We don’t want X-Fest to become ex-Fest

People gather on I Street downtown in August 2012 during X-Fest in Modesto.
People gather on I Street downtown in August 2012 during X-Fest in Modesto. Modesto Bee file

The Xclamation Festival – in all its noisy, raucous, rock ’n’ rolling, hipping and hopping, rapping and rip-roaring glory – should take place this August in Modesto.

The city shouldn’t impose any more conditions than it normally imposes, nor should the festival’s promoter be given any more leeway for meeting those conditions than he normally gets.

That’s what city staff is recommending and it’s what we hope the City Council approves Tuesday night . Canceling the event at this late date – in the midst of dozens of promoters trying to book talent for summer concerts – would be unfair to promoter Chris Ricci, the businesses that depend on the event and thousands of music fans who plan to attend.

X-Fest has been a Modesto event for 16 years, drawing anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 from across the region during the height of summer. It might not be a big-spending crowd, but bringing 15,000 people downtown has its benefits to bars, some restaurants, hotels and others. Those who attend hear dozens of bands on a dozen stages, moving like mini-migrations from stage to stage and beer booth to beer booth.

After all, it’s Aug. 20, it’s hot; everyone has to stay hydrated.

But they shouldn’t stay buzzed or inebriated. If that’s a problem, and apparently it sometimes is, then Ricci should make sure his beer taps are shut off earlier. He should consider ways to limit consumption, switching folks to non-alcoholic drinks or water as the night wears on.

We don’t hold Ricci responsible for the violence that occurred at one of last year’s after-festival impromptu parties any more than we hold MoBand responsible for bad behavior happening in Graceada Park after concertgoers have long since left.

But we wonder why a majority of city of Modesto police officers are declining to provide security – even at time-and-a-half. And we wonder why the Stanislaus County sheriff won’t allow his mounted patrols to help with crowd control.

Ricci should find out why, after 16 years, he is suddenly making more enemies among downtown business owners and officials.

We won’t tell Ricci what kind of music to book. That’s his business, and he’s good at it. By the same token, we won’t blame some businesses for not wanting to deal with festival goers, even one night a year. That’s their business. If X-Fest doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work. It’s a big city; accommodations can be made. Accommodations must be made.

Over its 16 years, X-Fest has evolved. That’s no cause to cancel it, but as the event evolves so should the rules, stipulations and requirements around it.

As part of this year’s contract, perhaps the city could insist on a more timely review – when the successes, failures and any issues are still fresh in everyone’s mind. Such a meeting could give everyone time to find big solutions for problems large and small. It could also set deadlines for resolving those issues.

That way Ricci, the city and all interested parties have time to plan an event for 2017 that will work for everyone.