BANGOR, Maine — Last week’s Celtic Woman concert and its estimated crowd of 3,000 was just a warm-up, a test run, an appetite-whetter.
City officials and organizers of the Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series are preparing for as many as 10,000 patrons at tonight’s show featuring Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band.
“Honestly, we’re not worried,” concert promoter Alex Gray said Wednesday. “The venue can handle that number, although we are prepared for a rowdier, blue-collar crowd this time.”
Bangor Deputy Police Chief Peter Arno agreed that the crowd for the two popular rock bands is likely to have a different makeup from the older crowd that turned out for Celtic Woman.
Adding two large beer gardens to the mix will keep concert staff on their toes, Arno predicted.
“We’ve detailed extra officers for security, and we’ll have folks outside monitoring pedestrian and vehicle traffic,” he said. “For us, parking is going to be the biggest issue, particularly because the Bangor State Fair is going on as well.”
In addition to about a dozen Bangor police officers, Gray said there will be a number of private guards from Atlantic Professional Security covering the concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. The concert’s alcohol sales partner, Oriental Jade, does not have extensive experience, but Gray said they are aware of the potential for problems.
“We’re cognizant of overserving, and we’ll abide by state laws that say you can’t serve people who are visibly intoxicated. Some people may be asked to leave,” Gray said. “But we feel we have sizable resources to handle this.”
One aspect of tonight’s show that will look different is the more expansive fencing separating the concert crowd from busy Main Street. Gray said for the Celtic Woman show, part of the concert area was left open to give passers-by a sneak peek at the concert. This time, the entire area will be fenced in and the fence will be cov-ered by fabric.
Now that the massive stage has been set up, Gray said the infrastructure is in place for the concert series, although additional chairs and portable toilets were being set up Wednesday.
Police are anticipating heavy traffic in and around the downtown area Thursday afternoon leading up to the concert and will close Railroad Street and Front Street to vehicles.
Arno said parking will be tough to come by, but he urged patrons to use the Pickering Square parking garage downtown and any other legal on-street parking in the area. Some neighborhood areas will be off-limits.
For future shows, parking also will be made available at Bass Park, but that lot is unavailable this week because of the Bangor State Fair. Handicap parking will be provided along Front Street and VIP parking is available off Front Street near the boat dock.
“We expect this to be our most challenging concert, but we don’t think it will be out of control,” Arno said.
The economic effects of the Waterfront Concert Series likely won’t be assessed until the series is over, but at least one business sector has been pleased with the response so far.
“We’re sold out for [Thursday],” said Tom Palmer, representing the Fireside Inn & Suites on Main Street. “It used to be that summers were a no-brainer, but now you almost need things happening to attract guests. And Bangor is the entertainment capital of Maine for the next couple months.”
Jason Birney, spokesman for Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, said that hotel is sold out as well.
“Certainly the fact that we’re a sponsor has helped,” he said. “We’re big fans of what they are doing and in bringing entertainment to the waterfront.”
Celtic Woman kicked off the first-ever Waterfront Concert Series on July 28. Gray, of Old Town, is a senior partner and booking agent for Massachusetts-based New England Concerts, which has worked with national promoter Live Nation to bring big-name acts to Bangor.
Tonight’s show will be followed in September by country artists Tim McGraw on Sept. 4 and Alan Jackson on Sept. 10, and pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz will perform on Sept. 11. Gray said he is still negotiating to add two more shows to the series.
Later this month, the KahBang Festival and the American Folk Festival will use the waterfront.