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Music Fest Over, Campground Cleanup Begins

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First, the party.

Then, the hangover. The Craven Country Jamboree campgrounds near Regina, Saskatchewan, emptied out Monday (July 18), with festival goers leaving a sea of mess behind them.

Some tents and folding chairs appeared to be abandoned. Garbage and empty beverage containers were strewn throughout much of the campgrounds, though some sites were cleaner than others, the Regina Leader-Post reported. (Click here to see a photo of the campground now that the festival is over.)

"I see there's a little less mess than there usually is," said Marilyn Pollock of Regina, who has been attending the festival with her family for almost a decade.

"If there were more places to take your garbage out, I think it would have been a little bit better. A few people picked up a little bit more, but you're still going to have a mess."

Camille Ponto of Regina and Amanda Laberge of Pilot Butte were also impressed with the mess, compared to previous jamborees.

"It's probably the cleanest Craven we've seen so far," said Ponto, who added the sunny weather helped to make the weekend "the best Craven ever."

"A lot of people have actually gathered up their garbage and put it in bags and left it at their sites," said Laberge, who noted the many gophers at the campgrounds had become rather friendly with campers as the festival progressed.

Anne Marie Tanguay and Sarah Blondeau weren't at the festival. The 17-year-olds were on a road trip across Canada from their home province of Quebec.

Eventually, they'll reach their destination in British Columbia. But on Monday, they were driving from Regina to Saskatoon.

"We passed this and thought it looked like Woodstock," said Tanguay. "We arrived and it was finished."

But the girls decided to make the best of the situation. They picked up some discarded items that they thought might be useful in their travels, as well as several bags full of beer cans they planned to return for the refunds.

"We need to eat tonight," said Tanguay, with a laugh, noting the girls tried to obtain an abandoned tent, but other scavengers wouldn't relinquish their claim to the item.

"We have a team of people out there who have been collecting garbage all weekend and will continue to do so until its clean," jamboree spokeswoman Kim Blevins said about the campgrounds.

"I've heard that it's clean, considering it's Craven," she added, with a laugh. "It just depends on how on top of it people were. It might take a week, it might take three weeks or it might take a couple of days. It's part of our lease agreement to clean up that piece of property and we'll make sure it happens."

Organizers were also busy Monday tearing down stages and cleaning up the mainstage and beer gardens areas, Blevins said.

Meanwhile, RCMP were busy directing traffic as campers made their exodus from the grounds, said Sgt. Craig Cleary of the Lumsden detachment.

On Sunday night, police arrested 30 people, which was fewer than the night before. That brought the total for the weekend to 127, down from last year's 160, Cleary said. No sexual assault charges resulted from the event. The numbers of calls for service and impaired driving charges were down, he noted.

"Keeping that in perspective, the attendance was down, as well, for the event," he said, noting he wasn't sure of the total numbers, but police did hear that 17,000 people attended one concert.

"We obviously didn't sell out this year, but we're doing OK," said Blevins, who didn't have concrete numbers. "I was out front for Rascal Flatts last night, just checking the crowd, and there were a lot of people here. We're satisfied with that. It all turned out well in the end."

Great weather and understanding crowds made for "one of the best festivals we've done, all things considered," Blevins added.

Some festival goers expressed frustration with wait times for buses that transported people from the campgrounds, which were up the Lumsden Hill, to the festival site at Craven, and back. But most said the situation had improved after Friday night as organizers tweaked the shuttle system.

Crystal Wagner of Regina said that, "The buses were fun. No complaints." But her friend Barb Bezan, who was at the same campsite on Monday, didn't entirely agree.

"It got better at the end of the weekend," Bezan said, as the group was taking down their campsite. "But I wouldn't go if we have to ride the buses next year."

"The buses were a gong show on Friday, but they were really organized throughout the rest of the weekend," said Ponto.

"The bus drivers were awesome, but it's just that bumpy ride going back and forth, and you have a few people on there who are drunk and you can smell it," added Pollock. "For Friday night, we waited an hour and a half, but after that, we didn't stay until the bitter end. You got smarter as time went on."

Police were pleased with the shuttle arrangement, according to Cleary of the RCMP, who noted it might have encouraged some people not to drink and drive.

"There were times where lineups were long, but everybody seemed patient and understanding," he said. "In light of the potential logistical issues with having two sites, I think that everybody pulled together and made it a successful event."

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