Officials say Yellow Creek Park will be ready for ROMP

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Derek Willis, left, and Josh Horn of OWB Diggers put up chain link fencing around the perimeter of the ROMP Fest grounds in the heavy rain on Monday morning at Yellow Creek Park.

The past week of sporadic, daily rainfall shouldn't be an issue for campers when Yellow Creek Park opens Wednesday for the annual ROMP Fest.

Preparations for wet weather began weeks ago and can continue while the bluegrass music festival is underway, Daviess County Parks and Recreation Director Ross Leigh said Monday.

"We've got a lot of resources to handle the festival," Leigh said.

Some campers are expected to begin lining up for entry on Tuesday, the day before the park officially opens. Many campers will bring RVs, but the parks department has been preparing for heavy traffic for some time, Leigh said.

"The rock in the park isn't there because it looks pretty," Leigh said, about the high traffic areas that have been reinforced with gravel. "This isn't the first ROMP we've had with rain."

The county places the gravel where park officials determine it's most-needed with the cost paid by the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Producing the event involves several county agencies, including the parks and recreation department, the road department, the sheriff's department and emergency management.

"Everybody understands their responsibilities," Leigh said.

The National Weather Service is calling for a break in the rain with only slight chances for showers or thunderstorms Wednesday through Saturday night. The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s.

That forecast should sound like good news to festival planners. Museum Executive Director Chris Joslin said a day of warm, sunny weather is just what the park needs right now.

"If we get a couple (dry) days under our belt, we'll be in good shape," Joslin said. As of Monday morning, conditions in the park were "good," he said.

While the NWS is predicting good weather and only slight chances of showers or storms, weather forecasting at the festival will be up-to-minute, with a meteorologist providing weather information from the park.

County Emergency Management Director Andy Ball said if the meteorologist identifies a weather threat, that information can be communicated to the crowd immediately.

Instant communication is needed because people may need to move quickly to go to their vehicles or evacuate, Ball said.

"Every second counts," he said.

If some of the camping areas are still covered by standing water when campers arrive, they can be shifted to alternative spots in the park, Joslin said.

"We'll make that call early Wednesday morning," Joslin said. "... But that's one of the advantages of Yellow Creek Park, we have so much space, there are available sites."

Plans are in place to manage contingencies such as wet weather, Joslin said.

"This is our 16th festival, so we've faced weather like this before," Joslin said. If the biggest issues facing the festival is standing water, "we can work around that," he said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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