Jul. 29—Guests heading to Cullman next weekend for this year's Rock the South music festival can expect a heavy presence from local and state law enforcement, both inside and outside the concert venue — all aimed at streaming the flow of traffic while helping guests stay safe.
Flanked Friday by Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper and Alabama State Troopers, Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry outlined the traffic plan for the Aug. 5 and Aug. 6 event, which will be held at the York Farms property located along County Road 469 in Cullman, just west of Interstate 65.
"We will average about 30,000 citizens per day for this event. Our job is to make sure we do everything humanly possible to keep everyone safe," said Gentry, asking that guests make their visit easier by noting their parking location before they leave their cars.
Gentry also urged concertgoers to be mindful of the event's no-alcohol, no-weapons policy (metal detectors will screen guests at the event's single entrance), and to know ahead of time how to get into and out of the event's parking areas. "Do your homework before you get there," he advised.
Culpepper added that guests should acquaint themselves with the people in uniform and the landmarks that can supply help inside the concert venue, should the need arise for medical or law enforcement assistance.
Local and state law enforcement "will have over 100 officers who will be inside the venue," said Culpepper, noting there will be misting stations — but extremely limited shaded areas — to help daytime guests cool off. "If anybody has any kind of safety or medical concerns, Cullman EMS will have medical tents set up, along with our law enforcement teams and the fire department," he said. "We encourage you to come to any of those groups if you have any kind of issue, so that we can make contact with the appropriate folks inside the venue to get you the help that you need."
Alabama Highway Patrol division chief Michael McBrayer said State Troopers will maintain a heavy presence along Interstate exits and other key highway access points, and cautioned motorists to familiarize themselves with local routes ahead of time so they won't need to rely on their cell phones for on-the-spot directions. He also cautioned that Troopers will be actively watching for signs of intoxicated driving.
"Don't drink and drive. We are going to be posted up at those intersections, and my troopers are going to be looking for DUI drivers," he said. "...Don't risk injuries to yourself, injuries to your family, injuries to your fellow drivers."
Near the concert venue, County Road 469 and County Road 436 will close to all motor traffic on both Aug. 5 and Aug. 6. County Road 436, which runs east and west and traverses I-65, will be closed to traffic just west of its intersection with Logan Avenue SW / Leonard Road, where parking areas will give way to pedestrian-only walking paths toward the venue.
The sheriff's office will limit its activity to traffic control and enforcement activity outside the concert grounds, while city police, ALEA, and private security will handle enforcement inside the venue. Gentry said the sheriff's office is equally committed to protecting both concertgoers and nearby residents. "Our top priority is to get you in and keep you safe," he said. "But also, we're going to take care of the community."
Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.