MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – About 32,000 people crowded the former pavilion site this weekend for the Carolina Country Music Festival, enjoying music while also eating, drinking and leaving all of their trash behind.
"It looked like a bomb went off," Myrtle Beach Parks Superintendent Richard Kirby said. "That's the way one of my staff described it."
Kirby's department takes care of trash cleanup for CCMF.
"The first year, frankly, we didn't know what to expect," he said. "We're the parks department. We're not the festival cleanup department. We had never done that before."
Now that the event just finished its third year, Kirby said the department knows how to handle it and has made changes to improve effectiveness and efficiency. That included adding on 15 temporary staff members this year.
"As the crowds have grown, we've had to do something different," Kirby said. "We've only had so much staff that's available."
Staff members worked a 24-hour schedule starting Friday morning, covering 12-hour shifts from 2:30 to 2:30.
"Overnight shifts were critical to being able to get it done," Kirby said. "We actually had the site pretty much clean by about 9 o'clock each day."
The department also rented a special machine that picks up litter as it rolls along the ground. According to Kirby, staff got 30 cubic yards of trash off the ground each morning. The solid waste division also had garbage trucks at the festival for the first time.
Kirby said it is because of efforts throughout the festival that they're ahead of schedule this year now that it's over. In 2016, crews collected 45 tons of trash.
"I think we will easily top that this year," he said, adding cleanup is estimated to be finished Wednesday.
Burroughs and Chapin owns the land where CCMF is held each year, but leases it to the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation.
That lease passes responsibility for site maintenance onto MBDRC, which then puts care for the site into the hands of event organizers through a sublease.
An event organizer can then manage cleanup or put in a request to the city for in-kind services, which is what CCMF did.
CCMF asked for more than $150,000 in services, which includes police, EMS, barricades, litter control, trash cans, dumpsters and staffing for trash cleanup. City council members approved that in February.
Now, the city is looking to recover some of the costs of the in-kind services for CCMF and other ticketed events by charging a $5 fee per ticket. That's part of the budget, which is on the agenda for city council's meeting Tuesday at 2 p.m.
CCMF director Bob Durkin said he has more than 20 local vendors and contractors who set up and take down the event, including the stages, porta-potties and catering areas.
"By tomorrow night (Tuesday), you hopefully won't even know that we were here," he said.