When the last-minute announcement of a free concert featuring multi-platinum rapper Snoop Dogg happened on Friday, the word spread like wildfire and the event ended up attracting thousands of people to Ontario.
The Argus Observer found out about the event so late, we weren’t even able to preview the event in print. We were able to put the notice out on our app, and our social media sites, Facebook and Twitter. In less than 12 hours, our Facebook post had more than 1,400 shares and other news organizations began spreading the word, too.
The reaction was mixed with the majority of the people expressing their joy over someone so big coming to our neck of the woods. Still though, there were people who speculated that the concert by Snoop Dogg, who has flaunted what some would consider to be a taboo lifestyle through his music, would attract “riff-raff” to town or somehow cause the crime rate to jump.
I’m happy to report that quite the opposite happened — overall, we found out in our follow-up story that concert-goers generally behaved and were, in fact, welcomed by local businesses.
Even though the Ontario Police Department were also unaware of Snoop Dogg’s slated performance until after we posted about it, they did not report any major crimes that occurred at the event.
Hotbox Farms owners were somehow able to secure a performance with possibly the biggest celebrity to ever perform in Malheur County and although it packed the streets and caused some traffic gridlock for the afternoon, it did not cause mayhem.
Rather, people of all ages — I saw people with infants and one man who said he was 75 — came to Ontario to enjoy a free show.
The event was a boon for our local economy, filling up restaurants, stores, gas stations, coffee shops and hotels.
Of course, more planning could have made the day more successful. If retailers, eateries and places to stay were aware of such an event coming to town with at least a few weeks notice, they could plan accordingly. This would include making sure they are fully stocked and staffed to ensure a great experience for all who attend the event and shop locally while doing so.
More notice could have been given to the city or first responders that such an event would possibly attract thousands so they could have worked in advance to ensure if any disasters did happen, they would be able to be handled with ease.
When it was found out more than a year in advance that a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017 would put the Western Treasure Valley on the map for the path of totality, possibly attracting tens of thousands of people to town, first responders from across the valley worked for months to ensure the safety of their citizens was not sidestepped. This included hosting public meetings, meetings amongst their agencies and ensuring everything was tested and back-up plans were in place for things such as radio and power outages.
The planning was all for not — a small fraction of the expected travelers did not clog up roads, except for briefly after the eclipse when everyone was headed home. However, from a safety standpoint it was nice to know our first responders worked so diligently to put our safety first.
I’d like to see more heads up in the future for large events like these expected to draw unprecedented crowds, because businesses deserve to have a chance to roll out the red carpet for our visitors in town and make an unforgettable impression.
Still, despite the late notice, many thanks are in order to all who were involved.
Shout-outs go to Steven Meland and Jeremy Breton at Hotbox along with their crew; to the Ontario police and fire departments as well as other emergency responders who did what they could to keep their community safe with little notice; to citizens who stayed after the show to clean up the trash; to people who attended the concert and disproved the “riff-raff” theory; and, last but not least, to Snoop Dogg for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to put on a free concert in an economically disadvantaged area.