Oakaloosa, a brand new Detroit music festival with a nonprofit approach, made its 2013 debut on Saturday, July 27th with a kickoff that met challenges posed by weather and revealed the grounds of Historic Fort Wayne to be an untapped gold mine of potential for large venue performances. The festival was hosted by Detroit Sports Zone, Inc. and served as a fundraiser for restoration of the Fort Wayne grounds, with some funds going to support youth sports and mentoring programs through DSZ.
The festival featured two full stages: one inside the fort’s grounds, plus the main stage sitting riverside and offering a picturesque view of the Detroit River and Ambassador Bridge in the background. If anything, the capacity of the main stage was a bit of a liability early in the day, where the empty space on the field dwarfed the attendees, but there was plenty of room for the early comers to play Frisbee, visit the “Community Corridor” row of nonprofit organizations that were invited to set up shop, and grab front row “seats” for the opening acts. The sound quality and acoustics were astoundingly good.
There were also a few fascinating installations by CAMP Detroit (Community Arts Moving Projects), including bike sculpture, a blanket tent, and pallet benches and coffee tables designs that are ready for the mass market.
Early attendance was hampered by a light line-up, with the big draw coming in anticipation of the evening’s headliners, Bone Thugs ‘n’ Harmony and Girl Talk. Later crowds had to withstand the freak hailstorm that briefly hammered the metro area. But forces of nature notwithstanding, Oakaloosa promises to be a winning formula for festivals with a philanthropic aim.