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Spring Awakening site’s soggy grounds prompt temporary delay as festival gets under way

Heavy rains in May resulted in a soggy mess at one area of the festival grounds, prompting one temporary stage closure Friday afternoon as grounds crews worked to rectify the situation.

Grouncs crews utilize heavy machinery to move mounds of mulch and sand into position at the Spring Awakening Festival grounds in Hoffman Estates, Friday, June 7, 2019. The last-minute work forced temporary closure of one main stage and VIP area.
Colin Boyle | For the Sun-Times

Spring Awakening Music Festival goers got an interesting welcome as they arrived for Friday’s kickoff of the music extravaganza.

Taking place through Sunday at its new suburban location in Hoffman Estates, the festival area’s main entrance area was abuzz with heavy equipment — earth movers, trucks — as mounds of what appeared to be mulch and sand were being relocated even as festival gates opened for the day. The mounds forced temporary closure/access to the Solstice Stage and adjacent VIP area Friday afternoon as crews worked to level the playing field.

“We’ve had the most rain in May in years and the grounds were completely soggy, said Pat Grumley, marketing director for React Presents, the festival’s organizers. “We want to present the best possible venue for our guests and we made the call to close part of the festival area off for now. It’s really a safety issue because the grounds were so soggy.”

The temporary closure forced the rescheduling of two acts early Friday afternoon, Axilon and Dani Deahl. Grumley said those shows would be rescheduled into available opening slots on Saturday or Sunday.

All other stages and areas of the festival were open for business as scheduled.

Mounds of sand and mulch are repositioned and spread out to cover soggy ground areas at Spring Awakening on Friday afternoon in Hoffman Estates.
Mounds of sand and mulch are repositioned and spread out to cover soggy ground areas at Spring Awakening on Friday afternoon in Hoffman Estates.
Colin Boyle/For the Sun-Times

The festival site this year spans 27 acres, featuring seven stages. Grumley said that 25,000 tickets had been sold for Friday and Sunday, with 30,000 sold for Saturday.

Shuttle buses are ferrying fans from the Barrington and Elgin Metra stations as well as the CTA’s Rosemont blue line stop.

The move to the ‘burbs, to what was once the famed Poplar Creek Music Theatre site, was prompted by festival research, Grumley said.

“We took a look at where most of our tickets sales were coming from over the past few years and most of them are from the suburbs,” he said. (Last year’s fest was held at Addams/Medill Park in Chicago.)

Parking was another huge factor.

“Half of our site is parking,” Grumley said, “which came in very handy, especially today. The other half is grass and trees.”

UPDATE: By 2:30 p.m. Friday, the Solstice Stage and its VIP area were open for business:

The Solstice stage is open for business as Audien performs during Day 1 of Spring Awakening Music Festival in Hoffman Estates on June 7, 2019.
The Solstice stage is open for business as Audien performs during Day 1 of Spring Awakening Music Festival in Hoffman Estates on June 7, 2019.
Colin Boyle/For the Sun-Times