Franklin County Fairgrounds, Greenfield officials look to curb noise complaints in 2024

The entrance to the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Wisdom Way in Greenfield.

The entrance to the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Wisdom Way in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-20-2024 5:38 PM

GREENFIELD — After Franklin County Fairgrounds concerts prompted noise complaints from residents last year, fairgrounds managers and city officials met with residents this week to hear their concerns and present new ways to mitigate disturbances this spring and summer.

With Green River Festival and SoulFest among the music events coming to the fairgrounds in the months ahead, Michael Nelson, president of the Franklin County Agricultural Society that manages the Wisdom Way fairgrounds, said both organizers agreed to re-angle their stage by 15 degrees in an effort to direct sound toward the parking lot and away from the Solar Village housing complex. He said SoulFest organizers agreed to move their stage so that it faces the grandstand area, allowing sound to travel downhill, farther from neighbors.

“That entire grassy area inside the track, that’s going to be all camping and parking. There’s going to be no noise at all in that area ... it will be facing into the woods there,” Nelson said. “Those are two examples of what our two biggest festivals are doing as their good faith effort to try to continue to coexist and be friendly to the neighborhood.”

In November, Greenfield Communications Director Matt Conway said city officials met with Department of Public Works employees, police and firefighters to brainstorm potential safety and noise mitigation improvements for the venue. He added that the city plans to host meetings between SoulFest and Green River Festival organizers and the public later this spring.

Without specifically naming the festivals, Conway addressed two particular events that were held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds last year that prompted a high number of complaints — The Homie Collective Campout and the Gear Jammer Magazine Truck Show — that he said will not be returning to the venue.

“I won’t mention the organizers by name, but that EDM-related festival, and then there was another event that was a truck show. Both events [Nelson] has already deemed inappropriate for the fairgrounds, and they will not be making their return. That was step one, really recognizing what events are working, what ones are not a conducive fit for the area,” Conway said.

Nelson described the two events as “stressful, tiring, anxiety-filled and awful,” but said that they were helpful to the fairgrounds because they helped the venue grasp what the levels and parameters are for noise in the area.

When resident K.C. Scott asked the officials what the enforceable standard was for the city’s noise ordinance, Conway responded that the city does not currently have such a standard, but that city officials are in communication with representatives from neighboring communities that have similar enforcement measures in place, such as Montague Town Administrator Steve Ellis.

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“They kind of experimented with a similar thing, and it presented some opportunities, but it also presented a lot of challenges. So, you know, I’m not one to rule anything out or rule anything in at this point, but it’s something that other communities have implemented. It’s something we can consider,” Conway said.

Residents mainly expressed concern over the noise and urged the city to establish an enforceable noise ordinance, with some complaining that even with the Green River Festival’s 11 p.m. curfew, early-morning sound checks remained a nuisance. Others expressed their frustrations with air pollution, citing an overwhelming odor of campfire and marijuana smoke traveling from the fairgrounds throughout the neighborhood, unleashed pets, and large music festivals’ negative impact on traffic flow.

In response to one woman’s claim that fireworks coming from the venue landed on her property, Nelson said the venue would be happy to contact the fire marshal to ensure fireworks regulations are being followed thoroughly.

Nelson also agreed to search for more soundproofing solutions for future events and reminded attendees that the Franklin County Fairgrounds is a volunteer-run operation with a love for its community.

“We’re an entire group of volunteers, myself included. We don’t get paid a nickel to do this crazy thing that we do,” Nelson said. “We just have a strong passion for the city of Greenfield, for the fairgrounds, and for building something amazing. We are learning as we go.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.