Music lovers flocked to the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park on Monday for the second annual Rock and Roar Music Festival.
The free festival, held in the zoo’s amphitheater, was a seven-hourlong concert presented by McDonald’s and sponsored in part by iHeartMedia. It was originally meant to be held Sunday, but was postponed due to the rain.
The event was organized jointly by Binghamton-based band Voodoo Highway and the zoo. The band’s vocalist, guitarist and percussionist Dana Stewart, an associate professor of Italian at Binghamton University, said that the idea for the festival came as a result of the amphitheater being built. Voodoo Highway had played at some of the zoo’s events before, so the marketing director asked if they could help bring students and community members together for a festival.
“I love hosting events or taking part in events that combine the energies and the creativity of the community and the University,” Stewart said.
Student band POOL, two-time BU Battle of the Bands champions, opened the event. They have played alongside Voodoo Highway before, but it was their first time playing the Rock and Roar festival.
Guitarist Joe Gallo, a junior majoring in industrial engineering, said that the venue had a “fun vibe,” and he enjoyed playing at the amphitheater and hearing a fuller sound because of the acoustics.
Singer Allie Young, a senior majoring in English, echoed Gallo’s sentiments and said she was happy with the audience engagement.
“It was a fun show for me and it was really nice to see all the people in the audience enjoying it too,” Young said.
POOL was followed by local artists Devinne Meyers, the Woodshed Prophets, Bess Greenberg, Voodoo Highway, Laurence Elder and Molina. Voodoo Highway played an additional set with some guest musicians — including Curtis Kendrick, dean of libraries at BU — as a part of their new Grateful Dead tribute outfit, Voodoo Highway and Company.
The groups ranged in style from “power twang” to alternative rock, and played both covers and originals.
“All the bands who are playing together have original music,” Stewart said. “There’s really a thriving original music scene here in the Binghamton area, so we wanted to highlight and celebrate that.”
Local artists and vendors set up tables on the path from the amphitheater to the zoo. There were representatives from businesses like Borel Boutique, Robilotti Salon, Paparazzi Jewelry, the Pampered Chef and Traveling Vineyard, as well as community organizations like the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier.
The zoo was also open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visitors of all ages explored the menagerie, which includes a rare Amur leopard, red pandas and a variety of farm animals in the petting zoo.
“It’s a really beautiful setting for a day of music and art,” Stewart said.
Dawson Lau, a senior double-majoring in geography and environmental studies, attended the festival and said that while he wishes there had been more vendors and a larger student turnout, he enjoyed the festival.
“The primary focus was the music and the artists, which was awesome,” Lau said.