Arts & Entertainment

Booze fuels a surge of arrests at 3-day Stagecoach Festival in Indio

The beer flowed like water at last weekend’s Stagecoach country music festival in Indio.
The beer flowed like water at last weekend’s Stagecoach country music festival in Indio.
Steven Cuevas / KPCC

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A 17-year old girl told police she was inside a portable bathroom on the festival grounds Friday when 3 men forced their way inside and assaulted her. Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron says the men fled before they could be identified. Detectives are counting on tips from the public.

“It’s a well attended event. So hopefully they’ll know this incident occurred and maybe they heard or saw something suspicious they’ll come forth and notify the police department,” says Guitron.

Indio police made nearly 60 arrests during Friday’s opening night. About 120 more people were arrested Saturday and Sunday. Guitron says the majority had something to do with booze.

Unlike the Coachella Music Festival, also held at the Empire polo fields over the two prior weekends, alcohol may be consumed anywhere at Stagecoach. At Coachella, it’s relegated to designated 21-and-over only areas. Coachella draws bigger daily crowds yet has significantly fewer alcohol-related arrests than its country cousin.

Guitron says it may be time to ask festival organizer Goldenvoice to reign in Stagecoach’s drinking policy.

“Goldenvoice’s partnership with us, and we’ve been doing this for over a decade, has been very open,” says Guitron.

“We always look to what we plan eight, nine months in advance to see hey, did it work? Where can we adjust? So we’ll evaluate this year and actually look at those areas as far as the alcohol consumption permitted areas that in the venue.”

Aside from the arrests, Stagecoach had a fairly smooth ride, with few major traffic tie-ups or heat-related illnesses reported. About 50,000 people attended each day of the 3-day country music extravaganza.