What started as a couple of local bands and a small picnic in Bucks Mill Park in Colts Neck in 2008, has evolved into a large-scale rock festival that is now in its 12th year and taking place at Monmouth Park racetrack for the second year in a row. Welcome to Rockfest at the Track: Woodstock Edition.
ROCKFEST AT THE TRACK:
Rockfest at the Track: Woodstock Edition will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5, from noon to 11 p.m., with gates opening at 10 a.m. at Monmouth Park, 175 Oceanport Ave., Oceanport. The rock festival is hosted by event coordinators Steve Warendorf of Moroccan Sheepherders and Marta Quinn of HABCORE, housing the homeless.
After the initial start in Bucks Mill Park with the Moroccan Sheepherders, a couple other local bands and a little picnic with a crowd of 50 to 100 people, Warendorf recalls that the next year they decided to do it again and the event grew a little bit.
“So the years passed and it grew and grew and grew, we got some nonprofits involved,” explained Warendorf on the start of Rockfest. “Habcore joined three or four years ago.”
According to Warendorf, the event was never intended to make a profit, however, it was more for them to be able to pay for the cost of presenting it as he was doing lighting, sound and parking himself, which proved to be a lot.
“So we decided to change it up,” he continued. “Marta had a contact at the track, knew Dennis Drazin, brought it up to him and last year, 2018, we only had three weeks basically to advertise, we switched it over to Monmouth Park.
“And the nice thing about the track is they take care of admissions, security, they’re very accommodating and I still do sound, staging and a lot of these costs we take care of …,” he said.
“It’s an all-inclusive in the Monmouth Park racetrack,” added Quinn. “It certainly has everything for us. It has the size. We can fit a lot of people. Food, beverage, parking.”
Warendorf explained that Bucks Mill Park has a limit of probably around 1,500 people and while there were 1,000 people generally attending the event, you’re still limited with the space. “That was more of a backyard BBQ,” said Warendorf. “We had a flatbed trailer as our stage,” he added with a laugh.
Last year at Monmouth Park they were able to have two proper large-format stages and Warendorf explained the way it worked and will work this year as well is that another band is setting up while one band is playing. “So you have constant music,” he explained. “And in addition, this year we’re putting a third acoustic stage inside.”
“We’ve been very fortunate, again, to be able to hold it in a much larger space,” said Quinn.
Rockfest Woodstock Edition brings over 15 bands to the two main stages and one acoustic stage at the track.
“ … This year the Woodstock edition, how that folds into the mix is that … I think 90 percent of the bands will be infusing, like one band in particular will do a couple Grand Funk Railroad songs, our Latin band will do some Santana and then the Sheepherders, my band, might do some Who,” explained Warendorf. “Whatever bands that played at Woodstock.”
Warendorf is quick to add this is not a requirement, but something that was proposed and should be a cool little thing to see.
“Well for several years we knew the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was coming,” said Quinn. “So we didn’t, when we talked about this, we didn’t want this to be a Woodstock event. We just wanted to slice some into it and have a little feeling.”
“What’s kind of exciting for us and I know Steve knows this gentleman, Poppa John Bug, actually who’s going to be opening Rockfest, he played with Richie Havens who played at Woodstock,” she added. “He’ll be opening with Freedom, which is very exciting.”
This year’s scheduled bands include Sundries, The Sam Sims Band, Southern Steel, The Nerds, Mack and Friends, Splintered Sunlight, Katfish Lucy, Moroccan Sheepherders, Strumberry Pie, Colossal Street Jam, The Matt O’Ree Band, Woodfish, Decade, Random Test, Xol Azul and Sandy Mack Woodstock Jam.
“So again, this area has so many amazing musicians,” said Quinn. “They’re talented. They’re touring. Last year there were four local bands touring Europe, getting better and better and better. So Steve has been able to bring them all under one roof, which is really amazing.”
MORE TO ROCKFEST
The craft beer garden at Rockfest will offer over 70 beers to those 21 and over. In addition, most of the food vendors at the track will be open so there will be tons of food and beverage options for guests to enjoy.
There will also be craft vendors in the mix, which has also been a constant in Rockfest’s history. Rockfest’s own swag is currently available for purchase on their website and will be available during the festival as well.
“And the big thing is we raise money and we can pay back the community, give some money to HABCORE, that would be awesome,” said Warendorf. “So it’s all good and last year worked out great as a proof of concept for the track. They loved it. I mean obviously we’re back for the second year.”
“For us to be associated with an event like this, we know how big it can be and sometimes it’s not all about raising as much money as you possibly can, it’s all about raising awareness,” said Quinn. “Musicians have absolutely wrapped their arms around this, they understand it’s their community too.”
“And, again, what we do is we provide permanent housing for homeless veterans, families with children and individuals with special needs all throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties,” Quinn explained. “So it touches everybody and they understand that. So really to have this community of talented artists open their doors to us, nothing we wouldn’t do.
“Again I feel it is a family. Music brings you together and it’s a family of musicians and that’s what Habcore is about. But to have them choose a local nonprofit and to embrace us.”
According to Quinn, right now they have over 300 people that have been homeless that they know of and they have over 100 children under 17 that they have to provide housing and services for.
“So it’s really amazing that we can do this and the more people we know, the more that we can help,” she said.
“Always our goal is to raise awareness for people in the community who are in need and how this all circled around for us is that we’re building as many houses and are building properties and we just received a sizable donation from the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation that will help us kick-start it,” she explained. “So we’re really excited about that. It’s a big deal for him to do this and of course my fingers are crossed we maybe have a special guest, you never know, but it all comes around. Music supports one another.”
A portion of the event proceeds after cost will benefit HABCORE and there will be raffles going on as well.
Pre-sale tickets for Rockfest are on sale now for $25, which includes entry to the beer garden. On the day of the festival, tickets will be $35 at the gate. For more information on Rockfest, a complete schedule of the music lineup, to purchase your tickets in advance and more, visit rockfestatthetrack.com.