NAPA (KPIX 5) — It almost felt like old times for attendees at BottleRock Napa Valley as the festival finally kicked off Friday after being canceled last year because of the pandemic.
BottleRock was postponed twice due to COVID concerns, but Friday night those concerns gave way to cheers as Bay Area hip hop star G-Eazy rocked the Verizon stage at Bottlerock Friday night before thousands of excited fans. The Oakland rapper is one of dozens of hip hop, rock, and pop acts spread across six stages this Labor Day Weekend.
“We feel alive again,” said Kayla Munson of Fairfield, who attended with her mom.
“We’re out again, back to the real world, it feels good,” said Lesley Munson.
The real world means COVID protocols: all attendees must present a negative test prior to entering, or full vaccination.
“I feel like you just got to watch yourself, be careful. pay attention, don’t be an idiot,” said Paula Araldi of Saratoga.
First-time festival goer Chris Ybarra appreciated the measures.
“It’s very nice, it’s safe which is nice too, where they check the cards, and everything… but it’s very fun, the energy’s great, the people are nice, good food, good alcohol,” he said.
This year the popular Williams Sonoma culinary stage is back with a unique lineup of all-star chefs and musicians. Food Network star Tyler Florence and Top Chef’s Gail Simmons paired up with country singer Maren Morris to make margaritas.
“We came in from Toronto, Canada. We had to take two flights here, which was so much fun, but it was a long way to get here. We came in 2019, we loved it. We did one day then, so we’re doing three days now,” said Cheryl Woods. “The people here, all the wine is to die for.”
Bottlerock features gourmet foods from dozens of Bay Area restaurants.
Saint Helena’s Goose & Gander will serve around 800 of its staple burgers by the end of the night.
“It’s pretty awesome, honestly I always love this festival, because we get to pump out a bunch of burgers and kind of go have fun, and check out the venue as well,” said chef Jesse Frate. “It’s definitely nice to be back.”
The festival expects at least 100,000 people over three days, which is slightly less than pre-COVID years.
“This is my first festival, the vibe’s very chill, everyone’s just excited to be back around people again,” said Jasmine Dickerson of Oakland.
“We’ve been held inside and locked up and now we’re just ready to just jam out and dance our lives away,” said Lauren Cooks of Tracy.