Safety plan amps up for Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival

Local News

This weekend, big acts like the Foo Fighters and Keith Urban are set to take the stage at the 2019 Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival.

It’ll be the fifth year for the event at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin.

After last year’s festival was rained out, the city and festival organizers have made some major changes.

As the tents, food, stages, and signs start to take shape, the festival’s incident response team is doing final preps.

“We are setting up our command post,” said Glenn Johnson, Assistant Fire Chief for the City of Franklin. ” We’re actually doing a load in today and tomorrow and testing all our equipment to ensure our dispatch capabilities as well as I-T.”

Johnson is serving as the Incident Commander for the event, estimated at around 25,000 people.

“We plan for the max and we’re prepared for the variety of different situations,” said Johnson.

Weather is one of the big variables.

Last year, the festival was cut short due to rain.

“What we’ve done primarily is increased the number of safety staff on-hand in order to safely and effectively affect an evacuation,” said Johnson. “And that’s fire law-enforcement and EMS.”

Johnson said if that happens, there are four designated shelters: United Methodist Church, The Factory, Liberty Elementary, and City Hall downtown.

“This year, we have shelter managers from Pilgrimage who will be reporting those locations, updating the attendees on a regular basis on the status of the festival,” he said.

Then comes concerns about a quick exit plan.

“We’ve worked with law-enforcement to create a traffic plan where we can have vehicles and pedestrians entering and exiting at the same time that don’t come into contact with each other,” said Johnson.

When it comes to communication, there will be boosted WiFi.

Johnson said the increased staff on site will help to relay information aside from social media.

“In the case that the broadband site gets overwhelmed and we can’t get the messages app, we’ve partnered with WAKM 950 AM that will help disseminate any kind of information to the public and festival goers,” said Johnson.

But even with so much preparation, Johnson said it’s hard to predict what can happen with large crowds.

“Dealing with the unknown,” said Johnson. “We’ve worked very closely with our public safety agencies to develop plans in the event of such an unfortunate event that did occur and those plans have been tested.”

There’s also a new emergency section on the Pilgrimage app for folks to report an emergency or fire.

“It’s instant,” said Johnson. “As soon as they hit the button and then it will go to our command post and populate on the board. It will actually show where they are at within the footprint.”

Johnson said a big concern for this weekend isn’t the rain like last year, but the heat.

“Start hydrating today because it’s going to be a long, hot weekend and we want you to have a good time and not become a victim of the heat,” said Johnson.

Text “pilgrimage” to 888-777 to get traffic and safety alerts.

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