While the venue was smaller than some veteran music-festival attendees were used to, the presence of national touring bands and a picturesque view of the Susquehanna River ensured a strong draw of people for the inaugural year of the Lunar Bay Music and Arts Festival over the weekend.
"Where could you go to a concert or show and have that kind of background?" asked Rich Carr of Darlington on Saturday, gesturing with his hand toward the river and the Conowingo Dam in the distance as he stood on a grassy hill on the grounds of the Steppingstone Museum in the midst of Susquehanna State Park north of Havre de Grace.
Carr is a member of the board of directors for Steppingstone, which served as the venue for the Lunar Bay festival. The event lasted throughout the day and night Saturday, featuring headliners such as moe. and Tea Leaf Green.
The music continued until 8 p.m. Sunday, with Keller Williams headlining the main stage in the evening.
"It went really well," Kelley Duncan said Tuesday. Duncan organized the Lunar Bay festival with friends and fellow Havre de Grace residents Genevieve Britton and Margie Coakley.
More information about the venue and all bands can be found online at http://www.lunarbayfestival.com.
Organizers estimated about 1,500 to 2,000 people had arrived by Saturday afternoon, and expected more as the larger acts took the stage in the evening.
Duncan did say attendance fell a bit short of the roughly 10,000 that had been expected for the weekend.
"We did not sell out but we did reach our goal for budget purposes," she said after the event.
"We are very happy. We feel the community felt it was a total success. We know the state park is very pleased with us," Duncan said, adding the museum's director was on site the entire time.
She said the museum was "very complimentary, very thankful" and she, Britton and Coakley were grateful to the museum in turn.
No serious incidents were reported during the event, which featured a heavy presence from the Harford County Sheriff's Office as well as local fire and emergency medical personnel, according to both Duncan and Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association spokesman Rich Gardiner.
Duncan said she was aware of only one call for an individual who turned out to be sleeping in the field.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Edward Hopkins agreed there were no incidents.
"There were effective communications and a great working relationship between the organizers and law enforcement that started prior to the event during the planning and went right [through] the Festival itself," Hopkins wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
The parking, traffic and other logistics also went smoothly, Duncan said, and attendees seemed to have enjoyed the music.
"We want to make sure the festival treads lightly," she said. "As far as the production and sound, it was highly professional. We got a lot of compliments about that."
The parking did not overflow and grass was lightly treaded, she said.
"The public really did well because they carpooled, so we are very thankful," Duncan said.
Caitlyn O'Connor, a pre-school teacher from Bethesda, expertly twirled a hula hoop, along with a group of fellow festival-goers, as jam music played from a nearby stage overlooking the river.
It was one of four stages set up to host the weekend's 48-band lineup.
O'Connor said Lunar Bay was the first music festival of her "summer adventure," traveling the country and attending similar festivals.
"It's awesome," she said. "I love how beautiful [Steppingstone] is and how it's right next to the hills and the river."
Britton, Coakley and Duncan call themselves the "Ladies of Locust," after the Havre de Grace street they live on.
"We plan to be here for a long, long time... it's only going to get better and better," Duncan said.
Food was on sale from a number of vendors, including local restaurants such as Looney's Pub of Bel Air, Coakley's Pub of Havre de Grace and Backfin Blues Bar & Grill of Port Deposit.
Forty-one vendors of various arts and crafts were also scheduled to be available during the festival.
"We're about showcasing the beauty of Harford County and just generating money for the entire county," Coakley said.
Max Montague and Kiana Noorishad of Washington, D.C., and their Chihuahua, Snoop, relaxed on a blanket, taking in the music and the sunny weather.
Noorishad said the festival offered "very good food."
"We're big foodies and we like the music, so it's a good combination," she said.
Montague said he and Noorishad attend a "couple" of music festivals each summer; he called Lunar Bay's venue "a little more scenic and a little more intimate" than other festivals in the area.
He also liked that their canine companion could attend.
"We go to a fair amount of music festivals that are a little larger, and we've never been able to bring dogs before, so it's a nice plus," he said.
Harford County residents who attended Lunar Bay Saturday enjoyed having the festival close to home.
Chris Widomski of Fallston, who came with his wife, Shannon, and their sons, Charlie, 9, and Sammy, 7, recalled having to travel to Southern Maryland or West Virginia during the 1990s to see music festivals with jam bands.
"It took forever to get there and line was out the door," he said of shows in West Virginia.
Widomski said Lunar Bay was the first music festival for his sons, and said it was "absolutely" a good experience for children.
"It's always cool and there's no fighting, no crazy stuff happening," he said. "Everybody's on the same kind of wavelength."
Heather Ujvarosy of Bel Air followed her 2-year-old daughter, Zoe, closely as she explored the vendor area; Zoe was also taking in her first festival.
Ujvarosy said it was "a whole lot to take in for somebody her age," but noted her daughter had many things to occupy herself with.
"She has her bubbles and balloons, and people have been very sweet, giving her balls to play with, and more balloons," Ujvarosy said.
A portion of the Lunar Bay proceeds will benefit five local and regional nonprofits, including Believe in Music of Baltimore; The Arc, which has chapters throughout the state assisting people with developmental disabilities; Pets on Wheels, which transports dogs and cats to visit people in nursing homes, veterans' hospitals and other institutions; Steppingstone; and Murals of Grace, established through the Havre de Grace Main Street Organization's Arts & Entertainment Committee, to paint murals around the city.
"I think what they're doing for this community is very amazing and special, to bring this much talented music to this area," Kenny Liner, program director for Believe in Music, said of Lunar Bay's organizers.
The organization is a partner of the Living Classrooms Foundation of Baltimore, and provides music education to Baltimore youth.
Lunar Bay organizers are already planning ahead for next year.
Duncan said some minor adjustments may be made, such as adding a tent, but they hope to keep the event essentially the same.
"We are heading that way next year," she said, adding they hope to keep it "specialized," with interesting art and food.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun