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Redneck 'Blank' happening for third year, event to shut down at midnight
HEBRON — The Redneck “Blank” is officially happening for the third year after selectmen granted organizer Harold Brooks his mass-gathering permit at their meeting Monday.
The selectmen approved the permit following a public hearing attended only by Board Chairman Dick Deans, Selectman Jim Reid, Brooks and Town Clerk Joan Clough.
Selectman Dan Eichorn arrived later and also approved and signed the permit.
According to selectmen, festival organizers are required to apply for a "minor" mass gathering permit for events with more than 300 people, which includes a $100 fee.
Permits for a "major" mass gathering, for 1,000 or more people, require a $250 fee and a public hearing – as is the case for the Redneck Blank every year.
Formerly the Redneck Olympics, the third annual Redneck Blank is scheduled for August 1-4 on Brooks’ land at 12 Harold Lane in Hebron.
The event will feature a pig roast, free camping, a beer tent and live music including nine bands, all weekend long.
There will also be numerous Olympic-style events and games, such as bobbing for pig’s feet, toilet seat horseshoes, a greased watermelon haul, a tire beer trot and more. New this year, on August 3 at 5 p.m., is a “crashing for charity demolition derby,” Brooks said.
Proceeds from the demolition derby will go to a number of charities, including the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, Camp Sunshine, Shriners Children’s Hospital, Androscoggin Humane Society, the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, to name a few.
Last year, the Redneck Blank attracted more 2,700 people last year – 100 more people than in 2011.
At Monday’s meeting, Brooks said he expected about the same turn-out this year. This year, however, he isn’t getting as many e-mails and messages about the event, he told selectmen.
“The first year, you have a ton of people asking questions,” Brooks said. “I was getting 100 e-mails a night. But now I am getting less redundant questions.”
The day after the "Blank" in 2012, the United States Olympic Committee asked Brooks not to used the word “Olympics” in the event’s name. Brooks complied, reluctantly, renaming it the Redneck "Blank" as a way to avoid a lawsuit.
Last year, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" made its way out to Hebron to give the 2012 Redneck Blank “NBC-style” coverage, which Brooks has said was good publicity. It may even be the reason USOC hasn’t contacted Brooks about the event yet this year, he speculates.
Last year, selectmen received complaints that Brooks’ event did not have adequate lighting and security. At the meeting Monday, Brooks said both issues would be addressed this year, as requested by the board of selectmen last August.
He told selectmen he will put up string lighting from one field to the next on his property to illuminate the grounds, but explained, like last year, he does not have law enforcement coverage. Last year, Brooks said he had 16-17 volunteer security guards on duty.
Brooks told selectmen he had fewer issues last year than he did in 2011.
“I tried to get it [security],” he told selectmen. Brooks pointed out that the town of Hebron does not have an insurance policy for police liability, which normally would allow officers from other towns to cover the event.
Not even nearby Oxford will cover the event, Brooks explained. This year, he said, the event will be shut down at midnight versus 1 a.m. to allow attendees time to “calm down.” He pointed out attendees that he would consider “high class” even tend to cause a raucous.
“The problem is, anything can happen,” Brooks said.
“I don’t want people coming from the bars afterwards,” he said. “I am closing the gate and not making any exceptions.” Once you leave at midnight, you can’t come back, Brooks said. He explained it makes it a lot less stressful on him and easier on 98 percent of people who come to have a good time.
“I don’t want to kick you out, but I don’t want you to come planning to stay, unless you camp,” Brooks said.
He is also going to shut down the stage area at midnight and four-wheelers, dirt bikes and golf carts will not be allowed after 7 p.m. “We’re going to make it mandatory,” Brooks said.
No campfires, dogs or glass bottles are allowed, he said.
Admission for the event is $40 advance for the entire weekend or $45 at the gate. Day passes for Friday and Saturday only are $20. Tickets are available at the Village Trading Post in West Minot, at the door, or online at www.eventbrite.com.