Stern Grove concert series ends

The Stern Grove Festival came to a close Sunday with not a patch of The City’s plush new amphitheatre lawns uncovered.

Following heavy winter rains that ruined the grass at the Stern Grove amphitheatre, off 19th Avenue, The City and festival organizers spent $25,000 to put in a new lawn. With more than 80,000 people attending the 10 concert dates, the turf held up well, according to organizers.

“Every year, even before the renovation, the park has taken a pretty good beating,” said Monica Ware, the director of marketing and public relations for the nonprofit Stern Grove Festival Association. “It’s actually held up pretty great considering the amount of people that have come through.”

The City will revisit the drainage problems that caused the winter damage to the lawns now that the series is over. Ware said it was not clear as of Sunday whether the grass will need to be replaced.

Despite the concerns about how the green carpet would hold up, the three-month free summer concert series ended with what organizers called the largest crowd of the summer on Sunday. Music enthusiasts laid claim to their patch of the lawn as early as seven hours before the event to hear the Los Angeles based Afro-Latin band Ozomatli and the East Bay’s Crown City Rockers. Gates to the grove were closed off two hours before the show even started and cars and pedestrians littered the streets for blocks in the afternoon.

For many, the day in the sun was about bringing food and blankets and making a picnic out of it.

“To be honest I don’t really know who the bands are, but it doesn’t really matter,” Pacifica resident Matthew Stone said. “It’s all about picnicking with the family.”

Still Sunday’s large crowd, estimated at 13,000 by organizers, was mainly due to the popularity of Ozomatli, according to Ware. Organizers spend a year planning the festival and attended several concerts and conferences to find performers to fill 10 Sunday afternoons. The annual event costs between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to Ware. All the effort and planning was not lost on all the fans.

“[You] can’t beat the price — it’s free,” said Martha Elernick. “How many things are free these days?”

sfarooq@examiner.com

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