Organizer expects 20K to attend Orange Crush Festival

The organizer of Orange Crush says the VIP sections of some Jacksonville-area clubs are sold out ahead of the three-day festival.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The organizer of Orange Crush says the VIP sections of some Jacksonville-area clubs are sold out ahead of the three-day festival.

Stephan Smith, the festival’s organizer, told News4Jax on Wednesday that he expects 20,000 people to attend based on ticket sales. He said he’s been planning for the event for two years and expects it to be a great weekend.

He said the events for Orange Crush will be held at private businesses around the city.

“I went to the city. The city was not assisting and they were not coming back in a timely manner,” Smith said. “The beach, I just made that a big recreational day so the city can see that I appreciate them, and I want them to make money.”

A response from the City of Jacksonville states that a permit had not been issued for an Orange Crush event at Hugenot Park. After an attempt to clarify, the city responded: “At this time, no one from Orange Crush has reached out to anyone with the City of Jacksonville requesting to use the park.”

The city also stated that it has “been working with public safety members and the local beaches communities to plan for these events.”

In years past, the Orange Crush Festival was very crowded when it was held on Georgia beaches. This year, it's moving to the Jacksonville area. We're starting to get an idea of what organizers expect this weekend will look like.

Last Thursday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams described the coordination with Orange Crush organizers as “haphazard.” He said police will be prepared for the three-day festival, and on Tuesday, a spokesperson confirmed the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office requested from other Northeast Florida sheriff’s offices temporary assistance with housing inmates as a precautionary measure ahead of the festival.

A statement Wednesday from Christian Hancock, JSO’s public information officer, reads:

“The transferring of inmates occurs on occasion for a variety of reasons, to include the safety and security of inmates and the institution.”

As of midnight Tuesday, the Duval County jail had 2,551 inmates. Its capacity is 3,077

The Jax Beach Art Market -- an unaffiliated event -- is also scheduled for this weekend. Jon McGowan, who puts on the event, said food trucks have been added this year to accommodate the crowds, but nothing else has changed.

“We’ve kept everything the same. I’ve never felt the need to react to it,” McGowan said. “I’ve stayed in tune with what was going on with the planning and I’m comfortable with the preparation made by the city.”

On Monday, the beaches mayors met to discuss preparations ahead of the festival. Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman pointed out that there has not been any public space officially booked at the beach.

Dr. Wanda Brown, the CEO of CJ’s Crab and WB’s Fresh Seafood, is hoping for some extra business.

“It will be an excellent boost for the businesses because a lot of businesses suffered and are still suffering from the economic decline of the pandemic,” Brown said.

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