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Music festival location questioned by Hebron landowners/Location changes to Poland overnight
HEBRON — A music festival expected to attract at least 300 attendees in July was questioned by Hebron landowners for more than two hours at the board of selectmen meeting, June 10.
On Tuesday, June 11, however, event organizers announced that they "upgraded" their location to Hemlocks Campground, 53 Larch Drive, in West Poland – less than 15 minutes from its original location.
Selectmen said they were told by organizers in May that the event would be limited to 250 people – "the limited capacity" for the property originally proposed.
The Big Dig Music and Mining Festival, sponsored by Greenbean Productions, was being advertised on Monday to take place July 19-21 on property located on Cushman Hill Road. On the event's Facebook page, organizers are offering "early bird" tickets to the first 300 consumers.
The property was being leased to Mike Green, of Greenbean Productions, for the event, selectmen said.
Tom Souza, owner of the land where the event was originally being planned, requested to be on Monday's agenda, but did not attend the meeting.
According to the Big Dig Facebook page, the festival will feature 25-plus bands and DJs. Tickets range from $20 for a Sunday day pass to $175 for a VIP camping pass.
"Changing the venue for our event was the result of a very pleasant surprise that we are expecting more customers than the original venue could actually handle," said Green, on Tuesday.
Green said the event will host workshops including cutting gemstones and polishing them to making all type of crystal and gem jewelry, as well as daily yoga classes, a wellness center, art galleries, hoop making, meditation workshops and more.
"We will be offering Mining Adventure Trips off-site, led by an experienced guide," Green said.
Attendees "will be swept away to different mineral hot spots, educated on what to look for and given instruction on the best techniques of the industry," Green said.
According to selectmen, festival organizers are required to apply for a "minor" mass gathering permit for events with more than 300 people.
The minor permit includes a $100 fee and an application needs to be filed 60 days prior to the event, said Chairman Dick Deans.
Permits for a "major" mass gathering, for 1,000 or more people, requires a $250 fee and a public hearing.
"When we contacted them, that was about the 60-day mark," Deans said.
Deans said event organizers had not filed an application for a permit. "They were going to stay at the 250 limit, but it appears they may go over that," he said, at Monday's meeting.
Green said Greenbean Productions had specifically changed the festival's location to West Poland to accommodate the growing number of people expected to attend.
On May 15, organizers advertised on Facebook they were expecting 420 attendees. And the number has been growing since.
As of Tuesday, with more than a month left to go before the event, 515 people on Facebook said they were attending. Another 265 people said "maybe." Almost 12,000 people were invited to the event on Facebook.
Selectman Dan Eichorn pointed out that people are most likely expecting to purchase tickets "at the door," as well.
"Facebook is not just social media," said Roland, a Hebron resident, who denied to give his last name. "In this particular case it's the avenue they [organizers] are using for their business."
Owners of property abutting the Cushman Hill Road property said they were unsure whether the property owner has a legal right of access to the land through Brook Road.
On Monday, landowners said they were also concerned about the limited space and potential violation of the town's shoreland zoning ordinance.
Bob Swift, a former code enforcement officer for the town, said at the meeting he couldn't envision 300 people or more fitting on the land.
Roland said he's dealt with this kind of festival before and bands sometimes set up on a flatbed truck. He said he has had spoken with the festival organizers who openly admitted to selling dozens of tickets per day.
"I don't abut the property, but I feel for my neighbors," said Roland.
Eichorn said at the meeting that the town was in consultation with its attorney about the situation and was expecting an answer by next week.
Selectmen said a fine may be incurred for any event holding a mass gathering without a permit, Eichorn said.
Brook Road, which connects to Cushman Hill, is a discontinued town road, Eichorn said. Souza, who owns property on Cushman Hill Road, has a right to access his property through Brook Road, he said.
Landowners can, however, tell Souza that his right to access the property does not include hundreds of people.
Gino Valeriani, who lives on Brook Road, said a private road sign was posted; had the festival taken place on that road, anyone who does not own property on the road would have been trespassing.
In the case of the "Redneck Blank," formerly known as the Redneck Olympics, the event organizer, Harold Brooks, owns his property, said Roland.
Brooks, who was at Monday's meeting, said he worried that the Big Dig festival, had it taken place in Hebron without a permit, it might have given his event a bad reputation.
Access to the road is a civil matter among landowners, Eichorn said.
"The people whose land [was] going to be crossed are the ones who will have the ability to do something," he said.