07/09/12: Sunflower Festival Security Earns Top Priority
CLARKSDALE - With record crowds topping 20,000 expected in Clarksdale Aug. 10-11-12, for the 25th annual free Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival starring superstar Robert Plant, safety and security are priorities being fine-tuned by a joint task force, reports John Sherman, festival VIP chairman.
Meeting at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, a major festival sponsor, and moving downtown afterward to the festival site, the security session was chaired by Johnny Tarzi, Emergency Management director, who is serving as overall security chairman.
Representing security entities were Clarksdale Police Chief Greg Hoskins and Lee Jackson of the Clarksdale Police Department; Chief Deputy Meyer Gilbert of the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department; Randy Stewart of Homeland Security and Chief Deputy of the Tunica County Sheriff's Department; Pat Woods of Woods Security; Robert Birdsong of the Clarksdale Fire Department; Marion Horner, Pafford Ambulance Service; and five NWRMC officials: Bill Bush, Chief Executive Officer (CEO); Charles Meyer, Safety Officer; Dianne Mitchell, Public Relations Director; Sherie Denham, Cardiopulmonary Director; and Kathy Long, Administrative Assistant.
Distributing schedules and maps of the festival area around the Delta Blues Museum Main Stage, Sherman explained that Yazoo Avenue from the Alcazar Hotel to the Yazoo Pass Restaurant will be blocked to traffic as well as Third Avenue from Issaquena to Delta Avenue.
He said musicians performing live on the Main Stage will be televised simultaneously on an oversize television screen on Yazoo Avenue and on two screens flanking the stage.
Entrance into the festival area will be on John Lee Hooker Lane, he said. Admission is free, but coolers, video cameras, and pets are prohibited, and access directly in front of the Main Stage is restricted.
"Thanks to the generosity of our VIPs, corporate sponsors, grants, individual donors, and volunteers who underwrite soaring production costs, we are able to keep the festival free and open to the public," said Sherman.
Festival news and updates can be viewed on the festival website: www.sunflowerfest.org
With Pat Woods of Woods Security pointing out Sunflower Festival boundaries on John Lee Hooker Lane, security specialists gain an up-close and personal understanding of downtown crowd expectations. Pictured are (from left) Chief Deputy Meyer Gilbert of the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department; Johnny Tarzi, Emergency Management director and overall security chairman; John Sherman, Sunflower VIP chairman; Clarksdale Police Chief Greg Hoskins; Woods; and Randy Stewart of Homeland Security and Chief Deputy of the Tunica County Sheriff's Department.