We checked the mud conditions in Golden Gate Park in the aftermath of Sunday’s ‘bomb cyclone’ storm, as Outside Lands prepares to bring 200,000 pairs of feet tromping through the park this weekend.
Moving the Outside Lands festival to late October seemed to effectively dodge the late summer Delta variant surge, but with that postponement came another risk. The strongest storm in a quarter century showed up less than a week before the event’s start, knocking over trees, creating mud slides, and flooding much of the Bay Area. So is Golden Gate Park’s turf in any condition to host 200,000 revelers for Outside Lands? Do we need to wear special boots or mud gear? Will the whole thing just turn into a Woodstock-style mud pit?
SFist hiked around Lindley Meadow and the Golden Gate Polo Fields area at which the festival is being held, to gauge the mud conditions. We found it a little moist, but not slippery or messy; there were maybe three puddles or exceptionally muddy spots along the perimeter and what we could assess inside the gates. On a scale of one to ten, we’d rate it a three, that is, not very muddy at all on the Tuesday before the event begins Friday.
That’s in large part because of what the San Francisco Rec & Parks department tells us were “a ton of mitigation measures” they took.
“There was a lot of concern, obviously, because meadows are where water pools, but we appear to be in good shape now,” Rec & Parks spokesperson Tamara Aparton told SFist Wednesday morning. “Fortunately, we had a fair amount of warning for this storm, so we were able to be proactive and mitigate a lot of the potential damage to the meadows.”
The festival itself started setting up earlier, knowing that the storms could bring lightning risk for set-up crew on cranes and cherry pickers. There were some days they called off work over this, plus they used lighter vehicles than they normally would have. Meanwhile, Rec and Parks did a great deal of sandbagging and pumping of the Polo Fields in the immediate wake of the storm.
“Outside Lands started the load-in nearly a week prior to their usual load-in schedule, and were able to complete much of their builds,” Aparton told us. “We used sandbags, pumps with generators and hoses, and matting on the fields. Our staff stayed overnight in the rain to make sure the pumps were diverting water, avoiding clogs, et cetera. We also restricted much of the vehicle access to the field so as not to cause excessive wear. Another Planet agreed to use a crane, on matting, to erect the main stage to avoid damage from the forklifts on the turf.”
When she says “Another Planet,” she refers to the concert promoter that runs Outside Lands, Another Planet Entertainment. And yes, they pay money to restore the park to its original condition after each Outside Lands event.
“Since the festival’s inception in 2008, it has contributed $27.2 million to Rec and Park to steward the festival grounds,” she said. “It also allows us to hire a full time, year round gardener for the area.”
You are certainly going to see more downed trees in Golden Gate Park than you’re used to (unless you’ve hiked there since Sunday.) But you do not need to wear special mud boots out to the park, or change your foot wear, or really dress any differently than you normally would. Except of course if you’re wearing a costume, because it is Halloween weekend.
This is all subject to change if the current weather conditions change. There is currently a low likelihood of rain in the five-day forecast, (10% chance Saturday, 12% chance on Sunday). So to the degree that Days Four and Five of a five-day forecast are reliable, it looks like we’re probably in the clear. And in terms of mud conditions, your Outside Lands vampire weekend should not have the strokes of mud on your shoes, or slippery turf, or mucky terrain to navigate.
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist