POLAND — An upcoming music festival that already switched its location from Hebron to Poland because of ticket sales, has announced its plans to relocate again, to an even bigger venue in New Hampshire.
Festival organizers announced their plans for the move on their Facebook page around 1:30 p.m. on June 26. The festival is still set for July 19-21.
"We are happy to announce we have found a new home! Page Farm is a beautiful, 70-acre slice of heaven! Located in [Croydon] N.H. it features gorgeous woods camping, private and has enough room for everyone ..." the message on the Big Dig's Facebook reads.
The festival will feature around 30 bands, deejays, on-site rock and crystal vendors, several workshops on crystal cutting, polishing stones and jewelry making and foot and art vendors, according to the Big Dig's Facebook. It will also host a "Mining Adventure" to Ruggles Mine in Grafton, N.H.
Ernestine Albert, owner of Hemlocks Campground in Poland, where the festival was being planned the second time, said she had no idea about the new location and that all she knew was that she wanted to do things according to the law.
"It was my decision," Albert said to call off the festival. "I don't just have one reason, it's a lot of reasons," she said.
"I thought, 'maybe this is just not the right time to do all this.'"
Festival organizers claim that the move to New Hampshire was the result of pressure from the road association in Poland that is in an ongoing legal battle with the campground over the private road leading to their camp.
Albert explained the road association notified the code enforcement officer of the event and said if the town granted the permit, the road association would file an injunction with the court and shut down the festival.
Albert said had she and lead organizer Mike Green of Greenbean Productions applied for the permit and sought approval from the board of selectmen, the event may have taken place in Poland.
But it comes down to more than that, Albert said. One issue is that the festival is scheduled for the same weekend as Oxford Plains Speedway's 250 race – about 12 miles from the campground. There was concern about the traffic flow and whether there would be adequate police and fire protection and toilet facilities, Albert said.
"If you were going to promote something, wouldn't you have all of your ducks in a row?" Albert asked. "I want to do it right," she said.
"The ball got dropped," Albert continued. "There was just too much coming at me at once."
Landowners whose property abut Cushman Hill Road in Hebron attended a selectmen meeting on June 10 to voice their concerns about the festival that, at the time, was being planned near their homes.
Landowners were concerned that the festival would attract far more than the property's 250-person capacity. They said they were also unsure whether the property owner has a legal right of access to the land on Cushman Hill road through Brook Road, and wondered about potential violation of the town's shoreland zoning ordinance.
As of June 27, a total of 623 people on Facebook indicated they were attending, regardless of the location, and another 363 people said they might attend.
Last week, Poland officials insisted no one had applied for a mass-gathering permit for the festival – nor was the town's code enforcement officer, Nick Adams, positive whether the planned activity met the requirements of the town's mass-gathering ordinance.
On June 25, Adams said he met with Albert, who was "gung-ho" about applying for the permit and making sure things were done correctly.
"I got a call about 45 minutes later. They said they were no longer going to be doing it," Adams said, June 26. According to Adams, Green said that he would be reimbursing the customers who had paid for tickets and sites at the campground.
According to Adams, Hemlocks Campground has 68 camp sites – he figures the capacity for the grounds is around 178.
According to Adams, Green argued he was "exempt" from having to apply for the permit. Poland's mass-gathering ordinance explains that "owners of facilities specifically designed for entertaining, housing and physically caring for 200 or more guests or campers" are exempt from the ordinance, but Adams determined that Green's proposal was not exempt.
"I've only have had a couple days to look at this," Adams said, "so I don't know exactly what was going on. Without an application, it's all hearsay."
"Like I've explained to everybody else – it doesn't bother me if there is a concert there or not," Adams continued. "It just has to be in compliance with the ordinance."
"It just wasn't put together the way it should have been," Albert said.