Camping for Music Festivals: Creating a Campground

Camping for Music Festivals: Creating a Campground
by Sue Basko, Esq.

If you want to create a campground to go with a concert or festival, there are many factors to consider.  Below is a list to get you started in planning.  There are so many details. If you're going to do this right, you need to be extremely detail-oriented.  It can be best to work with someone who has done it before.

Some of the most basic needs are drinking water, portapotties, hand washing stations, and showers.  These can all be rented.  There are companies that will send a big truck filled with potable water that can be used for drinking and showers.  "Potable" means the water is clean and safe for drinking.  It is safest to also use potable water for showers and misters, so there is no risk of bacterial infections in the water mist.

In hot weather, cooling stations are needed to keep campers from getting heat stroke.  Misters are often used.  A mister is a length of hose or piping with small holes in it, attached to a clean water source,  that emits a fine mist.  Usually the misters are mounted above head height, so people can stand under them. Sometimes misters are fronted with  a fan, to spread the cooling mist. Other cooling stations are a dome or tent that has air conditioning.

Here are some links to companies that rent misters, portable showers, potable water trucks, portable toilets, etc.  These are links to get you started so you can get an idea of what is available, space needed, and costs involved.   Most of these sites have good photos of the equipment that is for rent and some even provide layout diagrams.  Keep in mind, you have to use a company that delivers to the location of your event.

Misting/ Cooling:

Potable Water, Showers, Restrooms:

Another main need for any festival or campground is electricity. If there is not adequate on-site electricity (and there rarely is), you need to rent a generator.  Here are some generator rental companies to get you started on understanding what is available and costs involved:

Electricity Generators:

The links above are not recommendations, they are simply examples of companies you can explore to get started in finding what you need.  Your choice of a company should include such factors as location, price and add-on prices, availability, reputation, customer service.   Most such companies will be able to give you a lot of information.  For example, if you tell a company that you will have a 2 day festival with 200 people present all day and night, the company can tell you how many toilets you will need, etc.

Here is a basic checklist to get you started in planning a concert or festival campground: (These are numbered for convenience, but all items are important.)

  1. Zoning 
  2. Permits
  3. Local laws
  4. Inspections required 
  5. Campground temporary - can you get a permit for that?
  6. Is the ground surface suitable to tents?
  7. What must be done to the ground surface to make it suited for tents?
  8. Surface cushioning, leveling, drainage
  9. Flood plain areas?
  10. Electric wires overhead?
  11. Lighting danger?
  12. Sewage and water run-off? 
  13. Presence of wildlife
  14. Presence of mosquitoes, ants, mice, etc. 
  15. Presence of any endangered species
  16. Insurance - how much and can you get it?
  17. Water sources
  18. Water for drinking.
  19. Showers - are there any?
  20. Toilets - can you rent portapotties?  How many will be needed legally? Price them out.
  21. Hand-washing stations
  22. Servicing of portapotties, Cleaning several times per day
  23. Toilet paper, paper towels, soap 
  24. Electricity
  25. Basic Lighting
  26. Trash bins and collection
  27. Recycling
  28.  Clean-up during and afterwards
  29. Security and safety
  30. Layout done accurately to scale
  31. Plotting the space, marking the space
  32. Temporary fencing for exterior perimeter 
  33. Fencing to demark roads, areas, toilet area, etc.
  34. Layout marked or fenced, "street" signs and space signs made and posted
  35. Signage
  36. Car Parking
  37. Car parking layout – must follow recommended sizes
  38. Parking accommodations for handicapped
  39. In and out allowed? How many times per day?
  40. Alcohol allowed in?
  41. Layout to accommodate cars and camping; should not mix or dangerous 
  42. Picnic benches, tables, chairs?
  43. Preparations for possible severe weather conditions
  44. Having a central fire pit and shelter/ tent/ dome
  45. Not allowing campfires 
  46. Propane and cook stoves allowed or not? 
  47. Establishing a business entity for accepting payments
  48. Establishing a reservation system
  49. Establishing reservation and refund policies
  50. Camping price per car? per tent? Per person?
  51. Campers should have ticket to event, show it to reserve campsite
  52. Plan to have any “glamping” sites, that is glamorous camping with nice tents, furniture, etc, provided? (These rent for higher prices) 
  53. Noise ordinances, drug ordinances, drinking, guns, weapons, fireworks, glass
  54. Working with local sheriff (you don't want them coming on property)
  55. Emergency Medical Techs on location at all times
  56. Preparation for medical emergencies such as overdoses.
  57. Advance prep for med helicopter, ambulance, etc.
  58. Children, babies – allowed or not?
  59. Camping 18 and up only?
  60. Waivers of liability
  61. Rules stated on website before purchase of camping spot
  62. Dogs, cats, snakes and other pets brought by campers?
  63. Handicapped accessibility? Ramps, portapotties
  64. Availability of phone service, radio, wifi
  65. Need to run phone line for campsite business/ emergency contact within camp and to the outside? Buy/ rent satellite phones/ radios? (This can be especially true in a ravine, cave, mountain valley, deep forest area)
  66. Note: some ticketing systems depend on availability of phone service/ wifi to check authenticity of tickets.
  67. Food vendors
  68. Food vendor licensing, permits, health department inspections
  69. Presence of potable water for kitchens
  70. Source of electricity for kitchens 
  71. Other vendors - sunscreen, insect repellent, flashlights, etc.
  72. Possible entertainment on site 
  73. Cleanup, Damages, Repairs, Restitution, Trash, Recycling
  74. Set-up Time needed in advance (How many days/ weeks?)
  75. Break down / clean-up time needed after? (How many days?)
  76. Tire treads, ground damage, resurfacing (especially if it rains)
  77. Hiring people for entry gate security, layout, set up, security all day and night, EMTs, recycling, toilet maintenance, trash pickup.

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