LORAIN — Thousands of people descended on Black River Landing on Saturday for RoverFest, hosted by its namesake and featuring a number of big-name musical acts for the festival’s 10th anniversary.
The festival is a raucous counterpart to 100.7 WMMS’s morning radio show “Rover’s Morning Glory,” hosted by Rover, real name Shane French. This year’s event featuring performers Shinedown, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Jon and Big Boi, among others, alongside the annual Miss Morning Glory contest, dancers from Christie’s Cabaret and raunchy comedy routines from French and others.
Early in the evening, Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins reported they’d had no major problems with attendees at the festival, saying “so far, so good.”
“We haven’t made one arrest yet, we’ve escorted some people off the property,” he said. “(The festival) is very intensive, but we’ve also done this and Country Jam in the past, so we kind of work off the same plan. Last year’s RoverFest had a similar ‘floor plan’ so I didn’t have to do quite as much …”
He said the department had 35 officers and 21 auxiliary officers working throughout the day, filling in the staffing holes with law enforcement from other departments in the county.
While organizers declined to give an estimated number of attendees, 2016’s sold-out festival brought about 20,000 people to the area. After a break from the festival in 2017, this year’s sold-out event once again brought attendees to Lorain from across the country for the day’s much-celebrated 10th incarnation.
Natalie Brown, 30, and Megan Zaszczurynski, 24, made the two-and-a-half hour drive from Detroit for the day’s festivities — a first-time adventure for the pair.
“I had to come, I thought this was going to be the last one,” Brown said.
Brown has been a fan of the show since 2012, but Zaszczurynski said she came along “just because.” Like other attendees, both of them said they enjoyed people watching.
“Lot’s of characters, it’s been a different crowd than what we’re used to,” Zaszczurynski said. “And then the funny thing is we had an Uber driver this morning who said ‘I don’t head over there, it’s the hood’ And we’re driving in and it’s like this is super nice compared to what we’re used to in Detroit.”
Veteran RoverFest-goers Lauren Hirko, 24, and her boyfriend, Eric Lynch, both of Mentor, also enjoyed people watching.
“This is like my sixth RoverFest, and I’m a super big fan,” Hirko said. “And I’m really excited to see Machine Gun Kelly.”
She said she prefers Black River Landing to previous venues, and she and Lynch enjoy the food and alcohol available.
“We come here, we love it,” Hirko said. “The venue’s much better in Lorain than it has been in Voinovich (Park in Cleveland) and Eastlake, this is a way better venue. We love the food, love the drinks, it’s a really good time every time we come.”
Even outside the festival’s gates, Lorain residents were enjoying the show. From across the bridge, Linda Pataky and a group of her family and friends were watching the jumbo-screens and listening to the performances from her front yard. While she didn’t know RoverFest would be so close when she bought the property seven months ago, she said they aren’t bothered by the noise or crowds it’s bringing in.
“I actually really enjoy it because we can have our family and friends down here without having to actually go over there and deal with the crowds and everything,” she said.
Pataky said, while the festival can get “crazy” at times, she hopes it brings people in who recognize the area’s potential for economic growth.
“It’s great that they have this in Lorain County because Lorain County is seeking what they need to because it’s waterfront (property) and they need more of this to bring in the revenue that they really deserve,” Pataky said. “That was one of the reasons we moved here – it’s on the water, it doesn’t get enough attention … And the fact that the hotel was bought, by this time next year, with that hotel, I think this place is going to be really something.”