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Folsom fills for rockin' good time

Critics complain benefit dinner area obstructs view of headliner Eddie Money, rest of event smooth
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Up to 10,000 fans flooded Folsom’s historic district for a two-night music festival, but some were left wondering why they had to fight for a spot to watch the Friday headliner while others sat at tables in a private fenced-off area directly in front of the main stage. A VIP area for sponsors of Folsom Live, with a handful of standing tables and an easily accessible bar, was located behind a large area directly in front of the stage designated for a special $500-per-plate fundraising dinner to benefit Hope Productions. The VIP participants were not allowed in the dinner area. Another standing-room only area was also located behind the dinner area, along with a narrow walkway area between the diners and the Hacienda building. Those in the fenced dining area were provided a catered meal and had front-row seats for Eddie Money’s performance on Friday night. It also featured a live auction. According to organizers prior to Folsom Live, it was billed as an "event inside the event." Blake Currier, of Folsom, said this was his first time at Folsom Live. “It’s overpriced and $37.50 of my money went to bring in Eddie Money and I couldn’t get close to the stage,” Currier said. “I think Folsom did what they always do and that’s take care of their sponsors. ... This is my first time at Folsom Live and last.” Currier believed those in the benefit dinner area were event sponsors, but they were actually organizations, businesses and individuals who forked over $5,000 for a table of 10 to raise money for Hope, a nonprofit group. “From our perspective, we formed a partnership with a charitable organization and we did the best we could to accommodate the crowds,” said Joe Gagliardi, Folsom Chamber of Commerce CEO. “We’ll correct it in the future, there was nothing we could do that night.” Despite complaints, the fundraiser was met positively by others. “It was about raising money for charity to benefit kids,” said Diane Keeler, one of the event volunteers. “This is a nice event. For this many people to be in a venue like this, I mean, look how nice everyone is. You can’t find that at an event somewhere else.” Eddie Money was a last-minute fill-in for Pat Benatar, who canceled her remaining 2011 tour dates due to her guitarist-husband being injured. Money also tried to raise awareness through his own actions. “You think it’s hot here?” he asked. “It’s 118 degrees in Iraq right now. This song is for our soldiers, called ‘One More Soldier.’ Go to my website at eddiemoney.com and download it to help ... our veterans.” The song is about soldiers who lose their lives in battle. Dave Burrell, in an online forum, wrote, “That was very screwy to fence off the entire front area of the main stage. ... No ticket holders were allowed in this area. Everyone who purchased tickets had to stand to the ... side of that fence. “That was the only downside of the evening. I expected to have better access to see the main act for the evening. I bet everyone else there who paid (for) a ticket thought the same too.” Even those posting on Folsom Live's Facebook page were unhappy with the blocked main stage. Laurie Pellegrini wrote, “Not being able to stand in front of the stage was quite the disappointment for those of us that have attended every year.” Patti Boudreaux wrote, “(You) poorly planned the overly large VIP area. For (a) nearly $40 ticket you would think you could have gotten closer to the act. The event needs to get back to the basics and make this a fun event ... (I’m) very disappointed that the ticket holders were treated like peasants.” Saturday night’s Folsom Live did not feature a benefit dinner and attendees were able to get close to the stage. Mati Rosa Morphis, of Folsom, thought everything went well. “This event allows the public to come together to really enjoy the evening out with this beautiful weather,” she said. “I’ve had a great time tonight. I’ve run across all kinds of people from across the community. You can let your hair down and socialize.” Along with dancers and musicians, Folsom Live also brought in a variety of local volunteers to help run the show. Hacienda del Rio bartenders Chris Terra, Cody Estrada and Casey “Stud boy” Webb helped serve drinks to people at the Hacienda Stage on Sutter Street Saturday night. “We have all the fun and help entertain the crowd,” Terra said. Down near the Main Stage, bartenders and brothers, Joe Mohamed, Mike Mohamed and Chris Mohamed, tended bar at the Red Bull tent. “The people honestly make this night worth it,” Joe said. “There are a lot of attractive women out here. It’s a lot of fun.” There were a few scattered incidents requiring police or fire department personnel. Dorothy Ripley, of Roseville, watched an ambulance take away a young lady who, according to witnesses, fainted due to the heat. “It’s my first time at Folsom Live and I’m very impressed,” Ripley said. “Your whole police and fire department are under the wire, but they’re doing a great job maintaining control here and being low key about it.” According to the Folsom police blotter, there were two arrests for driving under the influence around 10:30 p.m. Friday night. There were two drunk driving arrests made shortly after midnight early Saturday morning, two arrests for public intoxication and one vehicle was towed because it was blocking a driveway on Sutter Street. Those arrest numbers are fairly standard for weekends in Folsom, according to the police blotters. ~ Laura Newell contributed to this report.