Trumansburg, N.Y. — As recently as five to 10 years ago, Trumansburg police were seeing somewhere between six to eight drunken driving incidents during every GrassRoots weekend.

The number started to fall. Then, last year, only one person was accused of DWI in connection with the festival.

This year, Trumansburg police again only arrested one person for DWI over the four-day festival — and he was trying to park his car.

Trumansburg Police Chief Thomas Ferretti

The decline in DWIs is part of a nationwide trend. At GrassRoots, when police have so much else on their hands, it’s a similarly welcome development that has made the festival both safer and easier for law enforcement, according to officials.

“People wise up to their drinking and it causes less problems,” said Thomas L. Ferretti, the Trumansburg police chief. “They’ve done a really good job.”

Ferretti said that Trumansburg police picked up one fugitive, arrested one man for selling hallucinogenic mushrooms and made a handful of other mostly misdemeanor arrests during GrassRoots 2014.

But — as reported by The Ithaca Journal this weekend — Ferretti said this year’s GrassRoots may be one of the safest on record.

“I’ve been here since the beginning, so I’ve seen it for the full 24 years,” Ferretti said, “and the first 10, I gotta say were really bad. We’ve really come along way in the last 14.”

Ferretti noted “you’re always going to get a few who will ruin it for others,” but with estimates of 10,000 festival-goers, the overall event was remarkably safe.

Part of that’s because drivers everywhere are deciding not to get behind the wheel after drinking.

“You can get to the festival, you can stay overnight,” Ferretti said. “Hey, you can have a good time without overindulging yourself — and, if you do, don’t drink and drive.”

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.