Peach Festival carries on 3 years strong

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First Posted: 8/12/2014

When The Allman Brothers Band went looking for a venue in the Northeast to launch its Peach Music Festival three years ago, it found the perfect fit in Scranton.

“We had been doing a festival in the pan handle of Florida for about six or seven years at the time,” said ABB manager Bert Holman in a recent telephone interview with Weekender. “(Wanee) had been really successful for us, drawing 15,000 or 16,000 people, and we wanted to start another one in the Northeast.

“We looked at a bunch of other sites; then Live Nation mentioned they had just gotten permits to do camping at Montage Mountain.”

Holman said the ABB had always loved coming to Scranton and had a great relationship with Live Nation, which had taken over the partnership with the band for the Wanee Festival, held every year since 2005 at the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla.

Since the infrastructure was already in place at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, the Peach had found its home.

“Montage is only a few hours away from a lot of major markets,” Holman said. “So it has turned into a big, regional market with Scranton in a sense as the epicenter.”

According to David Niedbalski, the Vice President of Marketing for Live Nation, the inaugural Peach drew a weekend crowd of 30,000, while last year’s second festival drew 40,000, with about 5,500 of them camping at the facility for the weekend.

Estimates for this year’s festival, running from Thursday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 17, put the crowd at 45,000 to 50,000 and the campers at 6,500.

“We have VIP camping, or ‘glamping’ as it is called, right at the top of the hill above the Mushroom stage,” Niedbalski said. “We built a new road from the upper parking lot to directly access the camping site and we also have an off-site camping and RV location, which is brand new for this year. Plus we have added a lot of ambience and décor to make this year’s festival even bigger and better.”

Holman said the idea for the festivals came from ABB drummer Butch Trucks. “He said, ‘Why don’t we do four or five festivals instead of touring all over the place?’

“So it was Butch’s dream, and the peach is one of the band’s biggest icons (one of the band’s most successful records was 1972’s “Eat A Peach”), so it seemed like the perfect name for the festival.”

Niedbalski, who noted this year’s festival will once again incorporate the Montage Mountain Waterpark for its second stage, said the Peach festival has been successful because it offers so many different experiences for the audience.

“If the people want to get all rustic, there’s the camping. If they want a more VIP experience, they could stay at one of the area’s hotels and get shuttled right to the site each day. And for the locals, they can just come for a day and enjoy some really good music.”

Both Holman and Niedbalski said they are committed to continuing the Peach Music Festival in the future despite the announcements of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks leaving the band and Greg Allman’s subsequent announcement that the ABB would stop touring at the end of the year.

“The Peach will live on,” Niedbalski said. “We are committed to the Peach at Montage Mountain for years to come. It will continue to grow whether the Allman Brothers Band tours or not.”

“We will carry the festival on, getting different people to headline it or host it,” Holman assured. “With the ABB retiring, they probably won’t perform as the ABB, but we’ll have Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band and maybe Gregg will play as he will be doing some solo shows.

“Our intention is for it to continue.”