Nocturnal fest draws 30,000

Attendance estimated at 15,000 per night; officers make 56 drug, alcohol arrests
Reporter Editor

Paris Hilton greeted by Billy Moreland (L) and Jason Worley. 
Photo courtesy Kit Worley Paris Hilton greeted by Billy Moreland (L) and Jason Worley. Photo courtesy Kit Worley The largest crowds ever reported in Milam County left local merchants “rave”-ing about their economic boost Friday and Saturday as music fans swarmed into Rockdale and Apache Pass.

Nocturnal’s second annual techno-music glitter and glitz drew back-to-back estimated crowds of 15,000 each night for a festival total of 30,000.

They also drew a bona fide celebrity superstar, Paris Hilton who was there Saturday night and made a surprise appearance on stage.

There was another side to the big weekend. Fiftysix drug or alcohol arrests were made over the weekend, with law enforcement personnel linking most of them to persons coming to Milam County for the Nocturnal event.

RECORD, CASH—This year’s estimated crowds of 15,000 broke the old mark of 13,000 held jointly by the second-night crowd of the 2010 Nocturnal Fest and a 1983 concert by George Strait at the Rockdale Fair.

Nocturnal Fest 2011’s two-night attendance at Apache Pass exceeded the 2010 event turnouts. Nocturnal Fest 2011’s two-night attendance at Apache Pass exceeded the 2010 event turnouts. By comparison, the annual Rockdale-Cameron football game has drawn crowds estimated at 6,000 to 8,000.

Another record probably fell. “It’s not an exact science but we’re estimating Rockdale businesses probably benefitted by about $220,000 during the weekend,” City Manager Kelvin Knauf said.

Last year’s economic impact was estimated at $200,000.

All 244 motel rooms in Rockdale were filled, as were area RV parks.

Ma ny mu sic fe st iva l fa n s camped out, beating by 12 hours a cold front that lowered temperatures by 40 degrees Sunday afternoon.

Restaurants and grocery stores were packed.

UNDER PARIS SKIES—Hilton, one of those “ famous for being famous” celebrities, came to Texas from Los Angeles specifically to attend Nocturnal Fest.

She kept fans aware of her movements with “tweets,” praising the band Kaskade, one of several dozen performing on four stages.

Hilton posed for photos with fans, described Apache Pass as “a beautiful place” to Jason and Carol Worley, co-owners of the venue, and flew back to Los Angeles Sunday, tweeting that she missed her pets but loved Texas.

Rumors spread that singeractor Jamie Foxx was planning to attend but there were no confirmed sightings.

BUSY WEEKEND— Law enforcement agencies brought in extra help, and worked extra shifts, during the weekend.

By Monday there had been 56 drug and alcohol-related arrests with ecstasy most prevalent drug of choice, at least in Rockdale, according to police.

“We had a lot of activity,” Lt. J. D. Newlin said. Ten felony drug arrests were made inside the Rockdale city limits.

“ We found that the people we stopped were much more sophisticated this year,” Newlin said. “They would refuse to give us permission to search their vehicles and we’d have to call in Constable Herbie Vaughan and his drug dog. We kept him real busy.”

Newlin said the ecstasy seen this year was different. “It wasn’t in pill form but was a clear capsule with powder,” he said.

(For names of those arrested, see police report and jail log, page 3A.)

“We also had some calls on the attire some of the young women were wearing,” Newlin said.

The Milam County Sheriff’s Department answered 11 loud music complaints related to Nocturnal Fest Friday and Saturday nights.

Noise complaints ranged from the Milano area to Thorndale and from the Pettibone area to the Rockdale airport.

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