The 2014 Hangout Music Fest

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The 2014 Hangout Music Fest Closes Its 5th Year To Rave Reviews From A Sold Out Crowd
By: Kelly Woodard

The 2014 Hangout Music Fest hit the beaches of Gulf Shores last weekend, and once again was an overwhelming success. A sold out event, the festival hosted more than 40,000 concert go-ers on the white sands, boosting local businesses and tourism all along the gulf coast.
"It's a spectacular weekend to be at the beach," said Festival Director Sean O'Connell. With over 100 acts including such big names as The Killers, Black Keys, and Queens Of the Stone Age, this year’s festival was bigger and better than ever. “Last year we sold around 27,000 tickets and we thought we were doing pretty well. This year we offered 40,000 tickets, and sold out. We think we are offering music lovers something really special with the best backdrop any festival could ask for,” O’Connell said.
New to the festival this year was access to the gulf for concert go-ers to cool off or groove out to their favorite bands while splashing in the emerald waters. First time Hangout Fest-ers Doris Longa and Susi Wuest took full advantage of the new addition and even started an impromptu dance party with their friends while partaking in the water access area behind the blu Beach Club on the west side of the fest grounds.
Swimmers were only allowed to get in the water from noon to 6 pm, and special wristbands were needed to access the area. Festival organizers said that for the safety of all of those in attendance, no more than 150 swimmers were allowed in each access point at once so at most, there would be 300 swimmers in the Gulf at any given time.
Even with so few people allowed to be in the water at one time, return Hangout Fest patron Jennifer Goodwin said the wait to get in the water was worth it. “Last year we were looking forward to taking a swim, but couldn’t so on our comment card we filled out “beach access” as our suggestion for the 2014 festival. We were ecstatic that they listened!”
But putting a toe in the gulf waters meant more to some than others. “This weekend is the first time I've ever been in the ocean,” said Oklahoman Michael Johnson. “It was an amazing day. I got to check something off of my bucket list.” Another first time gulf swimmer, Justin Stanger of Illinois, said, “I’ve always wanted to see the beach for myself. The fact that I got to hear my favorite bands while I splashed around truly made this the trip of a lifetime.”
But the festival wasn’t the trip of a lifetime for some. Over the course of the four day event, more than 60 arrests were made, most for drug charges and public intoxication, and 204 emergency medical assists were responded to by fire and rescue agencies.
Gulf Shores Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said, “In the past we've had to tase a few individuals that resisted arrest and we had none of that this time. Considering there were over 40,000 in attendance, I think it was a well-mannered crowd overall.”
While the arrests were down, medical emergencies were up this year, a fact that Gulf Shores Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Bo Smith said they expected with the increases in ticket sales. While there were 204 calls, only 14 people were actually transported to the hospital in Foley. “There was nothing real major at all,” Smith said. “Mostly dehydration.”
City spokesman Grant Brown said that the moment the closing act, Atlanta based rappers Outkast, left the stage, hundreds of people jumped into action to break down the festival as quickly as possible in hopes of getting festival go-ers out of the area and on their way home in order to get local traffic back to normal for the work week. All roads were said to be open with traffic flowing normally by Monday afternoon, and the public beach access is expected to re-open by Thursday afternoon.
“It was a very successful event,” Brown said. “Very low numbers and we're very happy with the lack of any significant medical or law enforcement issues. The security firm that handled the events security did a fantastic job. The quality of the different companies that were put to together for this were excellent. Just overall very good compliments to the festival and very good comments from the patrons.”
Oklahoma’s Johnson agreed saying, “I've been to a lot of music festivals but this one is the greatest I've ever been to. We will definitely be back next year.”
A be back they will. Festival organizers have already begun planning for the 2015 festival. No word of how many tickets will be available for the 2015 festival, but Brown says he hopes that it will once again be a sell-out crowd that boost the area’s business.