TUPPER LAKE - After two years of standing virtually empty after being vacated by Jarden Plastic Solutions, the former Oval Wood Dish plant at 100 Demars Boulevard will open its doors this summer to what could be several thousand people for a two-day concert.
The Warehouse Warzone music festival is set to be held July 16 and 17, and will feature almost 30 bands, both national and local.
The three visionaries planning the unprecedented event are Scott Gravlin of Radikal Rekreation, a recently opened store at 40 Park St., Joey Sears of Senseless Violence Promotions and Jeremy Dinsmore of Chaotic Art Tattoos, also housed at 40 Park St.
From left, Joey Sears, Scott Gravlin and Jeremy Dinsmore pose inside the former OWD/Jarden factory in their hometown of Tupper Lake, where they intend to host a heavy metal music festival in July.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
From left, organizers Jeremy Dinsmore, Joey Sears and Scott Gravlin walk with Building Administrative Officer Jim Schaffer through the vast, empty room in the OWD.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
From left, Scott Gravlin, Joey Sears and Jeremy Dinsmore intend to raise funds for local community projects with the concert they are planning to hold at the former OWD in July.
The idea for the concert began as a fundraiser to rehabilitate the local skate park, but has grown to include the local hockey association, domestic violence center and food pantry, as well as the West Memphis 3 Defense Fund, a fund collecting money for three men who many believe were wrongfully convicted of murder as teenagers.
The concert will be headlined by Green Jelly, the self-proclaimed world's worst band, best known for its version of "The Three Little Pigs" that was prevalent on MTV in 1993. The comedy rock band is notorious for onstage antics, including costumes, pranks and food fights.
Other mainstage bands include The Fabulous Miss Wendy, Elevator Death Squad and Seven Year Silence.
PARTIAL LIST OF BANDS
MAIN STAGE - SATURDAY:
Renewal of Faith
All for Revenge
Accusations of the Insane
MAIN STAGE - SUNDAY:
Elevator Death Squad
The Fabulous Miss Wendy
Seven Year Silence
Kill All Betrayers
Half Past Human
Crown of Lions
Well of Sin
Local bands playing half-hour sets on the concert's second stage include Professor Chaos, Slingshot, Abbott Hayes and Plattsburgh-based Well of Sin and Crown of Lions.
"We just want everyone to have a good time and see an awesome show," Sears said.
Making a concert venue
The three men have had to jump through some hoops in order to make the veneering floor of the former plastics and woodworking plant ready for a concert that they hope 3,500 people per day will attend.
Village Code Enforcement Officer Pete Edwards has to approve the site for a public assembly permit, and has been working with the men to ensure that they have acceptable emergency exits, sprinklers and an alarm system.
They've solved most of those problems by now, though. They plan to knock down some exterior walls to create exits, which building owners will board up after the concert with removable wooden planks.
There is also an existing, modern sprinkler system, which is being checked this week to make sure it is up to snuff, Edwards said.
The only thing left is an alarm system. The rest of the building has alarms set up throughout, but the one room where the concert will be held is not equipped. Edwards said building owner Norman Bobrow may pay for the alarm system so the facility will be ready for any other type of use in the future.
Organizers also plan to take care of small safety issues, like filling in places where the concrete floor is not even.
Jarden Plastics pulled out of the plant in May 2008, and Bobrow, a New York City real estate agent, bought it a few months later.
Since then, the property has been managed by Building Administrative Officer Jim Schaffer and has been home to a hodgepodge of uses, including a wood workshop for Schaffer and storage for snowmobiles, boats and other machinery.
It was even a movie set in 2009 when New York City filmmaker Gregory Orr turned the veneering floor into a mad scientist's laboratory and a morgue for his movie "Recreator."
"This room was filled," Schaffer said.
Schaffer has been cleaning out the building for more than a year. He has already removed four dumpsters full of office materials and debris.
"They left it in shambles," he said.
Piles of the raw plastic material that used to be melted down into products like poker chips still rest in various corners of the plant. In some of the vast, empty interior rooms, visitors can still smell melted plastic.
The Oval Wood Dish factory, named for the Michigan-based company's early products, was built in 1916-17 and opened in 1918, according to Louis Simmons' "Mostly Spruce and Hemlock." Its rise as one of the town's main employers made it a strong thread in the weave of Tupper Lake history. At its height in the 1940s, the company employed more than 500 people who made wood dishes, cutlery, flooring and other products.
In the 1960s, the facility was sold, and after a few shifts, former OWD Corp. employee Roger Sullivan moved in with his company, OWD Inc., which transitioned into plastics with the Lady Dianne line of plastic cutlery and straws.
Mark Yamrick, who worked at the plant starting in 1987 and was plant manager by the time it closed in 2008, said Sullivan was a fair boss.
"It was a family-owned business during the entire time he had it," Yamrick said.
Sullivan sold the factory to Jarden in 2003, and it became one of many plants in a large company. Yamrick said it was a change of company culture.
Jarden shut the plant down in 2008, saying competition from China was hurting business.
"There were a number of local jobs here that were certainly lost in the community," Yamrick said.
Sixty-eight workers were laid off, and the building was emptied.
"It's sad, but soon or later it will get rented," Schaffer said. "It's still a good building."
When Bobrow first bought the facility, he put forward several ideas for the building, including using it as a museum, art exhibit hall or a flea and antique market. Bobrow's spokesman for the lot, Michael Jacobsen, said he has been getting people interested in the facility but hasn't seen any offers for it yet.
Entrepreneurs considering building a wood-pellet manufacturing plant investigated the building but decided it didn't fit their needs.
But there are other options. Once Gravlin, Sears and Dinsmore get the site ready for the concert, it will be equipped and safe for anyone to hold other concerts or similar types of events there in the future. They plan to make their event an annual one.
"We figure there's no reason we can't make Tupper Lake a serious concert stop," Gravlin said.
Gravlin also said he has dreams of converting a large empty room in the front of the building into an indoor, year-round skate park with a stage at one end for local bands to use on a much smaller scale than Warehouse Warzone.
Crazy or stupid?
The three organizers say they were nothing but excited for the concert when they first had the idea, but now they're just stressed with all that has to be done.
"We're either crazy or stupid, I don't know which," Gravlin said. "We're going on that if-you-build-it-they-will-come theory."
Tickets for Warehouse Warzone cost $15 for one day or $25 for both days, or $10/$20 when purchased in advance online or at Radikal Rekreation.
The concert will be alcohol and drug free.
For more information about Warehouse Warzone, go to www.myspace.com/warehouse_warzone, e-mail the organizers at email@example.com, or call Radikal Rekreation/Chaotic Art Tattoos at 518-359-5086.
Contact Jessica Collier at (518) 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.