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NAPA — For Jessica Marioni and about a dozen of her classmates at Sonoma Valley High School, the opportunity to see the nation's hottest musical act perform in Napa was worth ditching classes Wednesday and camping out all day for the gates to open.

Marioni, 17, said she previously saw Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in October from the front row at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

"We made eye contact so many times," the University of Washington-bound senior said of Macklemore. "I think we had a connection."

The teens are among music fans of diverse ages and tastes who are pouring into Napa this week for the inaugural BottleRock musical festival. Wednesday's buzz on the first half-day of the event was a small taste of what's expected in coming days. BottleRock organizers predicted the event could bring in as many as 35,000 people each day from Thursday through Sunday, which if true, would nearly equal half of Napa's population.

Needless to say, not everyone in Napa was looking forward to the descending hoards. But for rock fans, including many who live in the city, BottleRock has them amped and ready to party.

Stu Harrison, a retired high-tech worker and event planner who lives in Healdsburg, already had bubbly chilling by Tuesday that he plans to pour for passengers aboard a bus he has chartered for the event.

The bus will make daily round-trips from Healdsburg to Napa starting Friday. Harrison said he had about 55 passengers, each who are paying an average of $50 for a roundtrip.

He said the bus and a driver cost about $1,000 a day.

Harrison spent $599 for a four-day VIP pass to BottleRock. He was eagerly anticipating getting to see the Alabama Shakes, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys, as well bands he's never heard of.

"You go to see bands or artists that you know, but in doing so, you also have many hours when you discover new music," Harrison said.

The veteran festival-goer recently attended Coachella, the mega concert in Indio, not far from Palm Springs. "As a result of going to Coachella, I have an iPod filled with artists that I hadn't heard of a year ago."

Jackie Hall of Santa Rosa is eager to see Ben Harper. "If I wasn't married, I'd try for him," she quipped.

Hall, her husband and two other couples are planning to attend the event on Saturday and stay the night with friends from Sebastopol who have rented a home in Napa.

Hall said BottleRock fills a need now that Santa Rosa's Harmony Festival is on hiatus. "Anytime you can pay to see more than one musician or band, it's just awesome," she said.

The BottleRock lineup includes more than 60 bands and comedians, many that could headline their own concerts. Organizers said the event could pump $50 million into the local economy. Every lodging opportunity in the Napa Valley and in many surrounding communities is spoken for.

A temporary tent city also started to go up Wednesday at Napa's Skyline Park.

"I think it's going to be a huge success for Napa," said Joannie Davis of St. Helena.

Davis, who is volunteering for the event in exchange for a single-day pass, waited in a long line outside the former COPIA building on First Street Wednesday morning to check in.

The 59-year-old said one of her volunteer shifts is from 7:45 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday night and includes an after-party.

"Didn't they check my age?" she joked.

Davis also purchased tickets that she is giving to her son, who lives in Tahoe.

Marioni and her friends spent $30 each to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. That was a relative steal compared with the $170 Marioni said she spent for front-row seats at the Fillmore.

Songs by the hip-hop duo have been at the top of the digital download chart for two weeks. The band's hits include "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us."

The group was scheduled to perform at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday. The teens, who were in line by 10 a.m., whiled away the hours by texting with their jealous friends who were stuck in class, swilling Starbucks coffee and playing games of Catchphrase.

"You're popping a .<TH>.<TH>. " Marioni said during the game.

"Zit!" someone else yelled, correctly filling in the blanks.

Most of the students' parents called the high school to excuse their absences for the day.

Senior Greg Maggioncalda, who also is bound for the University of Washington, said his parents would not excuse his absence even though he explained to them that at this time of the school year, "we're pretty much done."

Final preparations for the festival, which is not sold out, were underway Wednesday at the expo, which normally is the site of a town fair and events such as a home and garden show taking place the weekend after BottleRock.

Nothing of BottleRock's scale has ever happened in Napa. Crews on Wednesday continued to work on the massive 70-foot tall Willpower Stage where many of the main headliners will perform.

About a half-mile away, Alta Heights resident Silvia Novelli said she clearly could hear music from the expo Wednesday during a sound check.

Shazam, an app on her iPhone that identifies songs by their sound, registered the sound clearly enough from so far away to determine that it was Tom Jones' "Burning Down the House." Jones is not playing the festival.

"I love it. I love the excitement," Novelli said. "I hope it brings revenues and good publicity to Napa."

So does almost everyone else in this Wine Country city. However, there are lingering concerns the event could overwhelm Napa, a feeling amplified on Wednesday as traffic control measures went into affect near the expo.

BottleRock organizers secured off-site parking at an industrial park in south Napa and north at Vintage High School, and are planning to shuttle people to and from the event.

They also paid Pete Peralta, who owns an auto repair business adjacent to the expo, $5,000 to use his parking lot as access for the disabled.

Peralta, who is closing his business during the festival, expressed dismay Wednesday that organizers did not install a temporary fence around his property as he said they had promised. He also expressed concerns that a tenant who rents a cottage behind the shop won't be able to get in and out.

Still, Peralta said he doesn't see the festival "as a bad thing."

It remains to be seen how residents living near Fairview Park, which is a short distance from the expo, feel about having a REACH helicopter stationed there in case of a major incident at the festival.

The helicopter will not be dedicated to the event but will also fly to other emergencies in the area, said REACH's general manager, Darin Huard, who drove to Napa from Santa Rosa Wednesday to finalize plans.

City Manager Mike Parness said the festival's organizers have been working well with the city following a rocky start in which he said city officials weren't given enough advance notice for planning.

He said the city has emergency back-up plans in place should problems arise. The city is using a text and email-based service called Nixle to send out alerts. One alert sent at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday said there were no traffic delays to report and that Third Street, the main road leading to the expo, would remain open until 8 p.m.

"I'm sure we'll make mistakes, and it'll work better in the future, but I'm confident we've done everything we can to make it a very positive and enjoyable event," he said.

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