By all accounts, Gathering of the Vibes 2007 was a huge success on every level. The four-day festival, August 9-12, brought together musical artists, staff and an estimated 20,000 attendees from all across the nation to celebrate music, camping and camaraderie, and all agreed that the Vibes return to Bridgeport, CT, was triumphant.
Festival attendees were treated to unforgettable musical performances by Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Donna Godchaux McKay, as well as by George Clinton and Parliament Funkedelic, Allman Brothers alum Dickey Betts, Los Lobos, Buddy Guy, Deep Banana Blackout and many others as Bridgeport showcased one of its crown jewels, Seaside Park.
The Vibes food drive, in conjunction with Strangers Helping Strangers, generated more than 3,300 pounds of nonperishable food donated by the attendees. That figure represents an all-time Gathering of the Vibes record, and is also the largest food drive that Strangers Helping Strangers has ever been involved in. All of the food collected has been delivered to the Bridgeport Veterans Affairs Food Bank. According to the Vibes not-for-profit-coordinator Harry Moran, Food Bank director Jill Bruno was ecstatic with the proceeds, and had to locate off-site storage for a portion of the donations. All of the food collected will stock the shelves for well beyond a year, and will play a significant part in assisting to ameliorate the hunger and poverty situation in Bridgeport.
Sixteen not-for-profit organizations created a village onsite to engage attendees in discussion of social and environmental responsibility. Community Energy, a wind-generated-power company, donated renewable energy credits that allowed the Gathering of the Vibes to offset the carbon footprint generated by the festival's energy demands for running stages, lighting and sound, and powering vendors and production trailers. The Solar Bus and Solar Jam Productions provided solar power to power lights and sound in the NPO Village. For more information on participating NPO's, visit Vibes' "frequently asked questions" page.
Former Grateful Dead publicist/biographer and current Bob Weir and RatDog publicist Dennis McNally has been on the road with the band at festivals for years, and remarked upon how far Gathering of the Vibes has come since its inception. "During Ratdog's performance on Saturday night, I had some time to reflect on what was going on around me. From the production side, Gathering of the Vibes has grown up to become a professional, first-class operation. I find it immaculate and those are the sentiments of our crew as well. GOTV is to be congratulated." The constant touring of RatDog finds them all over the country performing for various-sized audiences. Mr. McNally added, "Saturday night the entire crowd was all in step with each other. That's a marvelous thing to witness in a crowd of that magnitude."
Gathering of the Vibes attendee, WNBC television's Today in New York News Anchor Rob Morrison, enjoyed Dark Star Orchestra and its tribute to Jerry Garcia on Thursday night. "Twelve years ago to the day, I was reporting for WVIT-Hartford and working on a story in Bridgeport regarding their waterfront development. Then I received the news of Jerry Garcia's passing. Now I feel as if it's all come full circle for me. The Bridgeport waterfront looks magnificent. Seaside Park is the perfect venue to bring kind and mellow attendees that want to listen to great music and celebrate Jerry." Mr. Morrison certainly hasn't forgotten where he lived and the stories he covered, and feels the vibrancy of the festival and appreciates the development of the city. "I've seen the tough times facing parts of Connecticut and the creative ways come up with to revitalize their cities. This is win-win for Bridgeport and all Gathering of the Vibes attendees. I'm very impressed with Bridgeport's forward thinking by inviting the Vibes into their community."
Clean Vibes, a festival cleanup organization, as well as the Vibes Operation Staff, put in several days of work following the event and succeeded in picking up every piece of trash left behind to make Seaside look spotless. Vibes executive producer Ken Hays initiated an aggressive recycling effort that kept more than 180 yards of trash from the city's landfill. The Bridgeport Board of Park Commissioners met with Mr. Hays on August 14 to recap the event. Board Chairman Mark Marko suggested that Gathering of the Vibes commence plans for the event to return to Seaside Park next year. Another followup meeting with the commissioners and Mr. Hays is scheduled for next month.