The Great GoogaMooga: Not So Great?

A general view of lines at the Great Googa Mooga 2012 at Prospect Park on May 19, 2012 in New York City.
A general view of lines at the Great Googa Mooga 2012 at Prospect Park on May 19, 2012 in New York City. Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty

Saturday and Sunday were perfect days to spend in the park with pals. Sunny, 70-something, crisp spring air. Couldn’t have been more perfect — unless you spent them at the Great GoogaMooga, according to a number of crabby attendees. The event, a food festival and concert in Prospect Park put on by the organizers of Bonnaroo ( sponsored by New York, among others) and attended by an estimated 40,000 people, had a number of logistical snarls.

It started at the gate, where festivalgoers who’d planned on rendezvousing inside with pals realized that there was, effectively, no cell-phone service thanks to massively overloaded networks. Since the overlap of people attached to their smartphones and people who attend artisan food festivals is approximately 100 percent, this resulted in the sort of desperate, angry scowling and ape-like poking at nonresponsive devices that would have struck crabby attendee Intel Noreen as a humorous and yet trenchant commentary on modern technological dependency if she’d been able to look up from her own “message send failure” disaster long enough to think such thoughts. (Only with the passage of time has she recovered enough from the tragic hours-long isolation from digital connectivity to do so.)

Some attendees, though, got service long enough to send angry tweets (the lucky jerks!) about the long lines — waits as long as an hour, thanks to a less-than-ideal ratio of booths to attendees — and lack of easily available water on a warm day. Not everyone was upset — the food was good, after all! — but those who weren’t happy really weren’t happy. Our personal favorite rant came from highminded Times critic A.O. Scott, who complained “prospect park is sacred space to me. don’t like to see it vandalized this way,” and then, more directly, “hey : EAT ME!” Scott didn’t seem to have actually been attending, but the blogger behind Gotham Girl got tickets for her whole family for the $250 Extra Mooga section, and was just as displeased.

Back at the boat house, the restaurant of the moment would bring out plates of food and people would swarm them and in seconds the food would be gone. It was a tad barbaric. Inside the Blue Ribbon fried chicken event there wasn’t even a regulated line but a swarm of people attempting to shove each others way in to get a piece of fried chicken. […] The people who ran this event knew exactly how many people were coming each day because they sold the tickets. The event was a shit show, to put it bluntly. 

That “swarm” apparently turned into a fistfight in what may have been a perfomance-art interpretation of the Hunger Games. And according to Choire Sicha, who witnessed “subway hippie horror,” the bad behavior didn’t stop at the gates of the festival. Still, despite the planning snafus, once you stopped thinking of it as a place where food and drink could readily be obtained, it was, again, a nice spring day to spend in the park with friends, if a whole lot more crowded than usual.

Related: What You Missed at GoogaMooga

The Great GoogaMooga: Not So Great?