By JOHN McBRYDE
First, kudos to Mother Nature.
Michael Whelan and Kevin Griffin were ecstatic when the subject of weather came up during a discussion about the fifth Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival.
“We’re so fired up and excited that rain is just not part of the equation,” Griffin said. “The temperatures are coming down. We’re pleased as punch.”
Whelan added that if the forecast from Thursday holds up, this will be a gold star event unfolding Saturday and Sunday at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm.
“From the weather standpoint,” he said, “this is shaping up to be the best forecast that we have had in five years. We’re certainly excited about the prospects for a nice weather weekend.”
Of course, one can hardly blame the two co-founders (Brandt Wood is the third) of the festival for running victory laps around a weather map that shows slightly cooler temperatures and absolutely no chance of rain and storms — a sharp contrast to 2018 when weather folks were guarding against what was coming and what eventually came to shorten the fest on Saturday and cancel it for Sunday.
With ideal weather conditions setting the stage this time, the fifth annual Pilgrimage Festival gets started Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs through The Killers’ performance from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and fires up again Sunday morning at 10 and concludes with Foo Fighters closing from 6-8:30 that night.
Griffin, Whelan and Wood have been planning for this festival since the last one shut down, and though the preparation doesn’t necessarily get easier, they said the learning curve seems to lessen.
“It doesn’t get any easier, but we’re certainly more informed every year,” Whelan said. “We learn something new and try to get better every year. We feel like this will be our best festival yet. We’re as prepared as we’ve ever been to have an amazing experience.”
Much of the credit for a successful festival goes to the partnership the event has with the city of Franklin, Williamson County and other entities.
“We’re in lockstep with the city,” Griffin said. “In the wake of last year’s festival, we formed an advisory board that includes… different people across the spectrum of city services. They know what we’re doing and they can advise us, and they can be informed. Brandt is doing a walkthrough now [Thursday morning] with all the city officials and showing them the footprint. I think that because it has been a parallel pact since day one with the city and the county, there’s full transparency and that’s why it works so well.”
Partnerships with nonprofits also benefit the festival’s footprint on the community at large, according to Griffin. Pilgrimage has directly donated nearly $180,000 to charities since 2015, and this year has added GraceWorks Ministries, High Hopes Development Center, Mercy Clinic Healthcare and BrightStone.
“We’ve always said from day one how the Jazz Fest in New Orleans was our inspiration for this festival and it had a charitable component,” Griffin said. “And when you do that people see it, and it becomes like a sense of community and pride and ownership in the success of the festival. We have deep roots in the community from the past five years and we hope those roots go deeper.”
Here are the festival traffic plans from the city of Franklin.
Both days (beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday)
- Northbound Franklin Road from First Avenue to Harpeth Industrial Court will close to vehicles beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday. This lane will be reserved for pedestrians and bicycles.
6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. both days
- Franklin Road from Harpeth Industrial Court to Mack Hatcher—both traffic lanes will be utilized to permit southbound-only traffic flow.
- Franklin Road from Harpeth Industrial Court to First Avenue —only southbound traffic flow will be permitted while the northbound lane will be reserved for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Liberty Pike from Franklin Road to Eddy Lane —no change to the normal traffic pattern.
8-10 p.m. both days
- Franklin Road from Harpeth Industrial Court to Mack Hatcher — only northbound traffic flow will be permitted. No southbound access to Franklin Road from Mack Hatcher
- Franklin Road from Harpeth Industrial Court to First Avenue — only southbound traffic flow will be permitted while the northbound lane will be reserved for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Liberty Pike between Eddy Lane and Franklin Road — only eastbound traffic flow will be permitted with the following exception: a police officer at Eddy lane will assist westbound traffic for residents who live in the Everly Apartments, Jamison Station, Old Liberty Pike and Daniels Drive areas. Franklin Road at Liberty Pike will not be passable.