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Bisco Fans Wondering Where They'll Be Camping Next

MCP Presents

A controversial Schenectady County annual music festival has been called off this year. But some fans said they saw it coming.

For more than a decade, thousands of electronic music fans have flocked to Camp Bisco, held for the past seven years at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, located in the Town of Duanesburg, New York — including Joe Marchitto of Burnt Hills, who first attended in 2011, and returned for two more festivals.

Marchitto said his favorite part of the festival is the extensive list of musicians who have played each year.

“Personally, I love that they have so many different types of bands there. I love going just to see brand new bands that I’ve never even heard of that always end up being spectacular,” said Marchitto.

But Marchitto said he was upset when he found out that Camp Bisco will not be returning in 2014. Marchitto said he first suspected something was up when there was no word on tickets going on sale.

Posted to Camp Bisco’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon was a statement that reads in part:

“After much deliberation and tireless efforts to make Camp happen this year, we had to make the tough decision to take a year off. We will be coming back in 2015 with an amazing event that will cater to the needs, wants and wishes of Camp Bisco's most faithful and valued attendees!”

An email sent to Camp Bisco’s organizers seeking comment was not returned Friday.

Duanesburg Town Supervisor Roger Tidball said the cancellation of this year’s festival is bittersweet.

“You hate to see the event go away because of the vendors that would profit, and the money that would come into the community. Through there’s a local store right there in Mariahville, he really does really well that weekend, it keeps him afloat for the rest of the year. The local gas stations, the local hotels, they all benefit from them,” said Tidball.  ‘But then you have a lot of the negative press...”

Camp Bisco had garnered a complicated reputation over the past few years. In 2011, a man was found dead of a drug overdose during the festival. In 2012, a young woman fell into a coma after reaction to a drug. Her family filed a lawsuit against the organizers of the festival, claiming they had failed to provide an adequate and timely medical response.

Stories of drug arrests and hospital visits surrounding the event are well-known, but organizers have stressed that they have a zero-tolerance drug policy.

Patrick Doyle, who attended the concert in 2009, said he hasn’t returned to the event since. An avid concert-goer, Doyle said drug use can be expected at large gatherings, especially on a weekend that features many high-profile electronic and jam-rock bands. But he said Camp Bisco stood out in the way it handled the drug use among concert-goers.

“What kind of set Camp Bisco apart from some of the larger festivals, your Bonnaroos, is that there didn’t seem to be a medical staff at hand. I know they most likely had one in order to get the festival put in place, but I didn’t feel like there was one or a security team to kind of keep people in check,” said Doyle.

Also in recent years, long traffic jams and negative reaction from the surrounding community had intensified. Joe Marchitto said he had a feeling that the event was on its way out.

“Over the last couple of years there had been a couple bad stories and band things that had happened at some of the Biscos, but I absolutely think that the event was coming to an end,” said Marchitto.

In February, the Times Herald-Record reported more details of a concert festival being organized for this summer in Saugerties, by MCP Presents, the same promoter for Camp Bisco. With a long list of tentative bands, the Hudson Music and Arts Festival is planned to be located at Winston Farm, the same location as Woodstock ’94.

However, fans of the Disco Biscuits and the like might have to wait to find out where they’ll be camping next.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.