By Sylvia Gonzalez
MIDLAND COUNTY - The biggest celebration of the oil and gas industry is back. Last year, a whopping 35,000 people attended Crude Fest. However, a night of bad choices landed about 200 of those behind bars.
Local authorities and the coordinator of the event discussed with NewsWest 9 on how they planning on making this festival even safer as the event grows even larger.
People from all over the Basin will go to experience Crude Fest. 25 bands are set to perform, but unlike previous years, this year some changes will take place.
Once again Crude Fest will be held at the Star of Texas Ranch in between Midland and Odessa. Last year, the biggest problem was how long it took to get inside the festival grounds.
Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter says at times the line got to be two miles long and that created a traffic problem, but with a few changes, he's hoping to minimize that problem.
"The concert has decided this year they're not going to charge the vehicles as they come in, they're going to charge them after they get there, which is a smarter thing to do get them off the highway, to make it safer and there will be a lot more improved parking," Painter said.
Sheriff Painter says the festival grows every year and that's why they beef up security every year.
"We're going to have our mounted patrol out there, we are going to have officers that will be there throughout, we will have some that are undercover, we will have a lot of them that will be marked in a uniform. We had several cars broken into last year, we're going to try to do something a little more to prevent that this year," Painter said.
Cody Baker started Crude Fest four years ago. He says he is humbled to see how big the event has become but he also has some advice for festival goers.
"You can come out drink your alcohol or beer whatever you want, we just advise you to stay on site, that's why we have 1,000 camp sites here, we don't want anyone to get hurt at the festival," Baker said.
Baker says Crude Fest is meant to be fun but everyone who attends the festival needs to abide by the law.
"We want to encourage everyone to be safe, we don't want anybody drinking and driving. That's our number one thing, that's why we work with DPS, that's why we work with the Sheriff's Department, the last thing we want anybody doing is getting hurt," Baker said.