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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Something in the Water: What went well, what didn’t, and how it’ll be better in 2020

Something in the Water festival goers start to converge to the Oceanfront during the Something n the Water festival. (Southside Daily/Julia Marsigliano)
Something in the Water festival goers start to converge to the Oceanfront during the Something n the Water festival. (Southside Daily/Julia Marsigliano)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Less than eight weeks before the first act was scheduled to hit the stage at the inaugural Something in the Water Festival, 25,000 tickets sold out in just 20 minutes.

Tickets sold out again when the festival’s capacity was increased to 35,000 one month out.

Brian Solis, assistant to the acting city manager for special events, briefed City Council on those details and more during an after-action report and 2020 Something in the Water kick-off at their informal meeting Tuesday where city officials discussed how to make the next event go off without a hitch.

Councilman Aaron Rouse was named “official liaison” for the event scheduled from April 20 to 26, and now with earlier planning, Virginia locals are getting access to tickets on Oct. 19 — almost one month earlier than the general public release and five months before they were accessible last year.

After the city’s $1.1 million investment, outlined by City Auditor Lyndon Remias, the total “direct impact” is more than $24.1 million said Vinod Agarwal, the ODU professor of economics recruited to accomplish a city and regional economic impact survey of the festival.

“A phenomenal event for three days,” Agarwal said.

According to the 6,919 surveys observed, 43 percent of festival attendees were from areas outside of Hampton Roads and with ticket prices ranging from $150 to $195 for three-day general admission Agarwal said he was surprised to see more than 86 percent of the respondents said they were “extremely likely” to buy tickets to the festival again.

Agarwal said the lack of complaints about ticket price “speaks volumes for this festival.”

Solis said officials learned how they could better improve transportation, information distribution, and making the permitting process more consistent, but also increasing parking for rideshare service providers, and how they better involve and communicate with local businesses and residents sooner.

“If this is ‘Something in the Water’ we want to develop local talent and provide venues to do that is something we heard,” Solis said.

Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams presented Something in the Water to city officials in October 2018 in an effort to provide entertainment and activities for college beach weekend visitors — the weekend, typically the last in April when up to 40,000 college students would flock to the Oceanfront and would result in higher crime rates for the city.

Even after the first scheduled day was canceled because of inclement weather, the new festival brought more than music with free events like a community “shark tank” with celebrity judges, “Art of Music Publishing” talks, and “pop-up church” service on Sunday.

Something in the Water achieved “community harmony,” top tier talent performances and corporate partnerships, and put Virginia Beach on a global stage as a visitor-friendly and entertainment destination, officials said.

RELATED STORY: The city declares ‘Something in the Water’ a successful event

“Given the magnitude of what we were doing, the fact that they put it together in a relatively short time period — it was a total feeling of positivity and I think this is something that we can take forward and keep going,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said.

Event dates will be officially announced on Oct. 14 with limited in-person and online pre-sales for locals at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater on Oct. 19.

Festival lineup is scheduled to be announced on Nov. 12 with tickets going on sale for the public Nov. 15.

Rouse warned “be aware of scammers,” and said to stay tuned to either his or Something in the Water’s official social media pages for more information and tickets.

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