Categories: Bay Area Crime

Hardly Strictly festival goes off without a hitch

There were hardly any reasons for strict policing during last weekend’s heavily attended bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park, where not a single major criminal incident was reported among the hundreds of thousands of attendees.

Data on official attendance numbers and police activity at the three-day Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival were being compiled Monday, Officer Albie Esparza said. However, of the two dozen crimes over the weekend that appeared on the Police Department’s recap — a daily listing of major crimes such as shootings, robberies, burglaries and assaults — not one happened near the six stages along John F. Kennedy Jr. Drive.

That is not a surprise, as the 13-year-old festival has a reputation of offering a safe environment for people of all ages.

“It’s a family atmosphere, a family event,” Esparza said.

This year, like every year, neighbors living and working near the park asked why other major events there are not more like Hardly Strictly. They often point to the Bay to Breakers footrace or Outside Lands, another three-day music festival that hosts far fewer fans at 65,000 per day.

In the past, the bluegrass festival’s attendance over the three days has exceeded San Francisco’s entire population, according to city officials. And the sunny skies at this year’s event might have drawn a record number of fans, according to reports.

The reasons why the bluegrass festival was low-key again this year remain the same: No alcohol was sold at the event, and the type of music that was being performed doesn’t often encourage rowdy behavior.

“Generally, crowds for Hardly Strictly are so much more mellow [than Outside Lands],” said Chris Ng of the Richmond District Neighborhood Center. “I think it’s a combination of the type of music, and that it’s a free event and during the daytime.”

SF Examiner

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