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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Mysteryland's hot scene chills out

By Matt Shortall - staff writer

By: Nyssa Calkin | Democrat
The stage seems to give off an ethereal glow as an energetic crowd sways to the beats of electronica.
BETHEL — For the second time in two years, tens of thousands of people flocked to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for Mysteryland USA, a weekend long electronic dance music (EDM) festival.
Attendees came from across oceans and continents to party on what they considered hallowed ground. The rave lasted for three days and nights before the wave finally broke and rolled back. By Monday afternoon, the campsites were packed up and the crowds went back to wherever they called home.
The usually quiet grounds of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts were transformed into a psychedelic carnival featuring dazzling pyrotechnic displays and awe-inspiring stages.
Besides the large international presence, there were plenty of local folks and businesses to be found within the maelstrom.

The surrounding business community had positive experiences. Local merchants and food distributors at the festival saw extra business thanks to the crowds, including Bernie's from Rock Hill, Bubba's BBQ from White Lake, and ever present Luigi's Pizza. Even establishments as far away as Monticello and Liberty reported increased business.
Mike Davies of Monticello was returning to Mysteryland for the second time. “It's great to see Bethel as a destination for people from all around the world,” said Davies. “It makes you think ‘hey, we've got something special here.'”
“Although the music style is different, I think the people here today and the people who were here in 1969 came for the same reasons,” said Jans Mesman of the Netherlands. “Personally, it was a dream come true to see this place where so many legends have performed.”
“Everything went exceptionally well,” said Town of Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm. “The town has two great partners in Bethel Woods and Mysteryland USA. It's a team effort to put on a festival of this size, and every department came together to make it happen, especially the state troopers who patrolled the festival perimeter and the EMS workers who kept everyone safe.”
Sullivan County Sheriff's deputies were also on the scene.
This overwhelmingly positive message was echoed by other Town of Bethel Board members. “These kinds of events just make the town feel alive,” said board member Lillian Hendrickson. “It was a shot in the arm for local businesses headed into our summer season, not to mention I hardly got any noise complaints. The recent thunderstorm we had was louder than the music.”
Despite the overall low number of complaints, Sturm says the town will continue to investigate how to improve conditions at future events. “Even if there's only one complaint, we still take it seriously and will work to address it,” said Sturm.
Mysteryland did have to share the weekend, however, with another EDM festival. The Electronic Daisy Carnival took place in New Jersey the same weekend, but the turnout at Bethel still broke last year's statistics.
The Holy Ground Campsite sold out with 10,000 campers making themselves at home for the weekend. This was a 35 percent increase in campers from last year's festival. Saturday and Sunday both recorded 10,000 day-trippers on top of 10,000 people already staying at the camp sites.
According to Mysteryland Project Manager Brian Tamke, they're considering moving the festival to another weekend besides Memorial Day when Mysteryland returns next year.
Inside the festival itself you could not purchase food or drinks with cash. You were required to deposit a minimum $20 onto your festival wristband fitted with a computer chip, which exchanged for $9 in “Birdie Bucks.”
There were no major incidents at the festival, with the exception of one female guest who jumped from the second story of a performance stage. The stage itself was built to look like a boat, complete with a viewing deck which guests were allowed access to.
"She was carried out on a stretcher and she was moaning and in rough shape. They closed the viewing deck on the boat afterward,” said Chris Saliture, who captured video of the incident on his phone. “I doubt you'll be able to go up to the top of the boat again at any future Mysteryland shows."
State Police made a number of drug and DWI arrests at the festival, including felony drug possession.

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