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It's the end for EndFest

It’s the end of the line for EndFest.

In Kitsap County, at least.

The music festival, which has featured top acts such as The Offspring, Cake, the Beastie Boys and Sarah McLachlan, has come to the end of its 10-year run at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. The concert will move to the Gorge in George, located near Ellensburg, this year.

“Essentially it works out for both of us,” said Frank Abbott, the fair and special events co-manager for the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department. “They wanted a bigger venue, and we’re trying to please the neighbors as much as we can.”

The event, which takes place in August, drew fire in recent years from Fairgrounds neighbors who complained of excessive noise, litter, haphazard parking, vandalism and public intoxication.

However, Fairgrounds-area resident Tom Williams said the concert was organized better last year than in the past.

“It’s not that I’m going to miss it, but after last year I wouldn’t have been so upset if they had it there,” said Williams, a member of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition.

Tickets for the concert usually sold out within hours, Jeff Mason of Night Owl Productions said in a Parks and Recreation press release.

“The change of venue provides seating for an additional 10,000 people, making it possible for the event to attract even bigger stars to the EndFest stages,” said Mason, the co-producer of the event.

Abbott called the agreement a win-win situation for concert organizers and the county. Many local teens, however, said they will sorely miss the summer show.

“I’m disappointed. I’ve been to the Gorge, and it’s cool but I’ve always thought of (EndFest) as Kitsap County’s concert. It’s a tradition here at the Fairgrounds,” said Josh Berlat, a senior at Central Kitsap High School. “If the line-up is really good I’ll make the trip, but it’s not as likely as if it were here, obviously.”

Other teens said businesses they worked for benefitted from the event, and that it would be a loss for the local economy.

“It’s going to hurt local businesses. I work for Spiro’s Pizza and Pasta and a couple years ago Korn (a rock band) bought 23 pizzas. That’s a lot of money,” CKHS senior Sam Berni said.

Many of the 17,500 music fans who attended the annual event came from across the water, Abbott said, but the Fairgrounds will do what it can to fill the void.

“With everything going on at the Fairgrounds, we certainly want to do more youth-oriented programs,” Abbott said.

The event was only a marginal money-maker for the Fairgrounds, according to the press release from the Parks and Recreation department.

“We weren’t loosing money by any means, but it is not about making money in every case,” Abbott said.

Calls to the station manager of radio station KNDD 107.7, which sponsored the annual festival, were not returned.

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