MECHANIC FALLS — A concert slated for Saturday at a farm where a 17-year-old girl was killed on a haunted hayride and dozens of others were injured in October is aimed at “healing,” the farm’s owner and the concert’s promoter said Wednesday.
The featured band at that concert will be Jack Russell’s Great White, some members of whom played a 2003 concert in West Warwick, R.I., where sparks from indoor pyrotechnics ignited the foam soundproofing on the club’s ceiling, causing a fire that killed 100 people, including the band’s lead guitarist.
Since that night, the band’s lead singer, Jack Russell, hasn’t performed in New England.
Standing with farm owner Peter Bolduc Jr., Stan Miller, CEO of North East Concerts, said at a Wednesday news conference: “Our message together has been that this is an event to bring about the message of healing. With the music and the event itself for the day, it’s a perfect opportunity.”
For his part, Bolduc said he and his family expect to continue the farm’s operations despite the tragic event that occurred when a Jeep pulling a flatbed trailer filled with passengers appeared to lose its brakes on a steep hill and crashed in the woods immediately behind where Saturday’s concert is expected to be held.
“I think the first thing that comes to mind would be, it keeps hope alive,” Bolduc said.
“Obviously, what we went through and what we are still going through, recovering from last fall’s tragedy, has left a lot of people wondering whether or not we are still going to be here. We are still going to be here,” he said.
“I guess it’s my good upbringing. I’ll credit my parents; we don’t cut and run. We don’t lay down,” he said. “We’ll fight our way through this.”
The band Great White split into two groups following the 2003 fire: Great White and Jack Russell’s Great White. Both continue to tour, but Russell, the band’s original voice, hasn’t performed in New England for more than a decade.
Miller said ticket sales stood at 500 as of Wednesday, but he expected more than 1,000 people would attend the concert that will feature seven Maine bands, including another musician who survived the club fire.
The concert, billed as the Party in the Pasture rock festival, is scheduled to start shortly before noon and close at 11:15 p.m.
In addition to an 11-member security team, Miller said four local EMTs will be standing by with an ambulance and a local police traffic detail is expected to help with the departure of concert-goers.
Miller and Bolduc said this was their first event together, but they don’t expect it to be the last.
Bolduc said he hopes to host future musical acts, maybe country or Christian bands.
Bolduc said he had some reservations about offering his farm as a public venue after last fall’s tragedy.
“It doesn’t go away,” he said. “My goal is here, money aside, it’s safety and it’s providing an entertainment venue that people are going to go home and talk about and (have) positive reviews in a positive light. This is not a get-rich-quick. This isn’t something that’s going to heal all the wounds. This is a step of putting ourselves back out there.”
The farm’s haunted hayride course the flatbed was traveling the night of Oct. 11 was called The Gauntlet, the same name Jack Russell’s Great White’s new album is titled.
Asked about that on Wednesday, Miller said he “would have no idea” about the names of the band’s albums and couldn’t comment on it.
Great White had success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group’s best-known hits include “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Rock Me” and “Save Your Love.”
Investigators of the haunted hayride crash said it appeared a mechanical failure led to the rollover, in which Cassidy Charette, a student at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, died of her injuries. Seriously hurt was Charette’s boyfriend, 16-year-old Connor Garland of Belgrade.
Nearly two dozen others were also seriously hurt, suffering broken bones and head, back and neck injuries.
Last month, a grand jury indicted the farm on a manslaughter charge, as well as charges of aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct. The driver of the Jeep and a mechanic were also charged with reckless conduct.
Bolduc was not charged.