We are in the thick of summer concert season and the Baltimore area is gearing up for yet another electronic dance music festival.
But recent deaths and drug overdoses at similar events across the country and here in Maryland are raising concerns about this weekend's Moonrise Festival. Festival organizers say safety has always been their number one priority.
This weekend, the sounds of horses racing at Pimlico will be replaced by electronic dance music during the two-day Moonrise Festival. Best friends Summer Bedard and Darby Wilcockson of Annapolis will be among the tens of thousands of people in attendance.
"I have a lot of friends going, so that's going to be really fun," Bedard said. "There's a lot of big names going. It's actually a really big festival."
With their excitement comes concern from their parents, organizers and city officials, after last weekend's EDM-fueled Mad Decent Block Party at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia.
A 20-year-old and a 17-year-old died of apparent drug overdoses. Paramedics took nearly two dozen others to the hospital, many for drug-related reasons. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said first responders have thoroughly reviewed Moonrise's security plan.
"We've worked with the promoter to make sure that their security plan is tight and that they're vigilant to make sure that they're on the lookout for illegal drugs," she said. "We want people to come, have a good time and to, go home, safely."
In a coordinated response between the city and event organizers, more than four dozen EMTs will work the festival. Two doctors and incident command staff will also be on hand.
"I know that we have done it in the past, hosted these big events," Rawlings-Blake said. "People have come and had a wonderful time and I do not expect anything different from this weekend."
Promoters and artists within the Electronic Dance Music industry, including Moonrise headliner Kaskade, have spoken out against illegal drug use at concerts and the dangers of ecstasy, also called MDMA or Molly.
"One thing you don't want to play with, is ecstasy," Kaskade says in one PSA featuring him and other prominent EDM artists.
Wilcockson and Bedard have attended many EDM festivals and said people can definitely have fun while staying safe.
"It's just not smart to ever take anything and just drink tons of water, stay with your friends and just have a good time, enjoy it," Wilcockson said. "You don't need drugs to have a good time."
Though Moonrise's organizers did not want to do an on-camera interview, in a statement they wrote that festival-goers will have plenty of access to free water, misting tents and cool down areas, and that they will also adjust any safety protocols as needed throughout the weekend.