City officials talked Tuesday about the Touchdowns and Tunes festival that took place Labor Day weekend, with Mayor George Bray calling it a “very positive event,” while acknowledging complaints about the volume level.
During Tuesday’s Paducah City Commission meeting, Bray shared his thoughts about the three-day music festival, which was on the agenda as a discussion item and was the subject of public comment made by two residents at the meeting. McCracken County Fiscal Court officials also discussed the festival during its meeting Monday night.
The festival, which was held at Carson Park, included live music performances from several notable acts, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Chris Young and Brantley Gilbert. It drew some complaints from the public regarding the noise volume, as previously reported by The Sun.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve had Touchdowns and Tunes here in Paducah, but it was the first time that we’ve had it at Carson Park. Just of the interest of full disclosure, the city and the county really collaborated on that event,” Bray said.
The county owns Carson Park, but it’s within city limits.
Bray added he thinks it was a “surprise to the community in many, many respects,” noting the event’s scale, the amount of advertising, that tickets had been sold for over a year, and the quality of acts and the volume of the noise.
“Overall, it was a very positive event. There was over 15,000 people that attended over the three days — that brought people to Paducah, visitors from out of town,” he said. “There was a lot of people that went out there and enjoyed that and enjoyed the event.”
Bray said he received a few complaints, and overall, had about seven or eight people who contacted him. He’s also gotten a “lot of positives,” in conversations in the community.
“It made an impact on the local economy — hotels, and other vendors that participated in the event, so the event definitely — I’m sure, has some growing pains. And, one of the things that we need to acknowledge for sure is that the volume was very loud, and was surprisingly loud to people who did not anticipate it,” Bray said. “And so, that’s something that we certainly need to acknowledge and work through if we have that event at that location again.”
During discussion by commissioners, City Manager Daron Jordan gave details about the process for granting the festival’s noise variance, which happened before he became city manager. It included sending more than 300 letters to residents in the area, giving them an opportunity to express an opinion.
Jordan said the only complaint he directly received was the variance’s time wasn’t adhered to “on the front side — not so much on the backside of 11 p.m., but on the front side,” and he believes there’s an opportunity to address that.
At the meeting, Paducah residents Amelia Martens and Canyon Bowden voiced their frustration about the festival’s noise.
Martens, who lives on Jefferson Street, told city officials she has elementary school-aged children and “11 o’clock is late.”
“It’s about four hours after we’re getting ready for bed.” she said. “It was a three-day festival. It was Labor Day weekend … so that means for three days — and I’m a teacher, my husband’s a teacher, we were looking forward to a relaxing weekend, in which we could open possibly our windows, maybe sit in our backyard, which we did not get to do.”
She said their brick house was vibrating, and the windows and shelves were vibrating. She also described calling the nonemergency number multiple times a day over that weekend about it, and the loud noise level.
“I’m not against bringing people in and the city doing well and us making money, but we do not need to alienate the people that already live here,” she said.
Bowden, who lives on North 31st Street, expressed disappointment and touched on a number of issues in her remarks, including concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, price of tickets, that it “catered to a very specific, very white audience.”
“I also have young children. At one point ... my 2-year-old was holding his hands over his ears and crying in our house. So, I think this is absurd. I think the volume level was absurd,” she said, after noting the house was vibrating and they could hear lyrics inside the house.
In an interview with The Sun last week, Touchdowns and Tunes CEO Bryan Kent said the latest that bands played at the festival was 11:05 p.m., and it took “all the necessary steps and precautions that we were required to take when it comes to noise.”
The commission’s entire discussion regarding Touchdowns and Tunes, and the whole meeting, can be viewed online through the city’s YouTube channel, @paducahkygov. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 28.
In other business:
• The mayor presented Nate Crawford with a “Duke of Paducah” award, and read a proclamation that declares September as City Government Month.
• The commission approved the joint reappointment of Mark Whitlow, Tom Padgett, Darryl Pea, Bill Bartleman, David Jones, Alex Sherwood, Andrew McGlennon and John Mann to the Paducah-McCracken County Convention Center Corporation board.
• The commission approved an ordinance for an amendment to the zoning ordinance, Section 126-68. According to the city, this aligns the Conditional Use permitting process with state statutes. It allows conditional use petitions to go directly to the Board of Adjustment, instead of referring them to the Planning Commission first. Officials said this will save a developer three weeks or more on projects.