Leave Fridays alone!

I am writing to express my feelings about proposed changes to Fridays After Five [News, "Freebie no more," March 13, 2003] (http://www.readthehook.com/93178/news-freebie-no-more-fridays-after-5-ey...). As a long-time participant, I am apprehensive about charging admission every week and booking national bands. I am against altering the very successful format based on other cities' way of doing their activities.

I used to attend Richmond's Innsbrook Wednesday event. I no longer do so. When they started charging $3 to attract better acts, it seemed reasonable. However, the occasional $10 fee originally set for major bands is now the norm.

The real problems there, and I fear will be here, are the huge crowds and expense. The long lines for admission, drinks, and bathrooms that occurred at the Eddie Money concert were not a pleasant experience. Most people I talked to said thank goodness the secret band happens only once a year.

I don't think the Charlottesville Downtown Foundation has the staff and space to handle that kind of crowd on a regular basis. It was a real nightmare to leave the amphitheater to get a drink or go to the bathroom because of the elbow-to-elbow jammed-packed audience. Trying to find friends was impossible. This is CDF's idea of an improved festival experience?

I ask that before such drastic changes occur, CDF get public reaction. Announcing the changes this late with bands already booked gives no chance for people to react. They need to try the new format a few times and ask people how they feel about the long lines and fighting through the crowd to find a seat, get a drink, or use the bathrooms. The CDF committee members need to go to Richmond on a few Wednesdays and see how crowded and unpleasant the experience has become there.

While Fridays is run by CDF, it is a people's event. We feel we have a right to be asked if we want our event to be unique or like all the events in other cities. Bigger is not better to us regulars.

Bob Crytzer