Fresno turned its back on downtown by letting Grizzly Fest move to Woodward Park, Bredefeld says

Councilman Garry Bredefeld said he still thinks the Grizzly Fest belongs in downtown Fresno and is concerned about the noise it creates near Woodward Park.

The issue came before the Fresno City Council on Thursday as a contract amendment for the May 4-5 music festival. It moved last year from Chukchansi Park to Woodward Park with Snoop Dogg as the headliner.

“Grizzly Fest is a wonderful event,” Bredefeld said. “I just don’t believe it belongs in Woodward Park. I believe it belongs downtown. …I think the council turned their back on helping downtown by not having it there.”

Along with approving the contract amendment, the council also approved an environmental assessment addressing the sound level generated by the festival.

Garry Bredefeld

The other council members expressed support for Grizzly Fest and complimented the festival’s organizers for the smooth transition to Woodward Park.

Bredefeld, whose District 6 includes the park, said he received about 100 noise complaints about the music festival last year and said he looks forward to the city completing a noise study during the event this year.

Councilman Steve Brandau, who last year opposed having the event in Woodward Park, said he has changed his mind. He said he drove on streets in his District 2 and the Woodward Park neighborhood during the 2018 event and didn’t find noise from the festival to be overly disruptive.

The council members also noted that traffic, parking and Uber and Lyft drop-off all operated smoothly.

Aren Hekimian, the music festival organizer, said studies last year showed that Grizzly Fest boosted the local economy by $3 million to $6 million. About 16,000 people attended over two days, he said. It’s not logistically possible for the festival to continue operating downtown, he said.

“For us, we just want to provide something the city can be proud of,” Hekimian said.

This year, Portugal. the Man and G-Eazy are headlining the festival and will be joined by other acts such as Young the Giant, Schoolboy Q, Ziggy Marley and Tribal Seeds. Fresno artist Fashawn will celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Boy Meets World” and will perform the album front to back.

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Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.