NORWAY – The Fully Unclothed Dancing Activism Festival, better known as FUDAfest, began its 25th annual weekend of “clothing optional protest against unjust laws” Friday.

The first protest may have already occurred when organizer Aaron Fuda failed to apply for a mass gathering permit from the town.

“They have no permit,” acknowledged Town Manager David Holt.

It’s required for events with more than 250 attendees and there is a $100 permit fee. Fuda said he’s only offering 250 tickets, thereby avoiding the need for a permit.

The event at his McKay Road property is advertised as bringing the hippies, punks and metal heads together to fight for their rights to party, dance and be naked.

As of Friday afternoon 644 people had signed up on the event’s Facebook page indicating they would attend. Partygoers were urged to still come despite the sell-out because Fuda “family members” would sell them a ticket at the gate.

Fuda claims the town mass gathering ordinance was put in place to control his sometimes out-of-control festival. He calls it the Fuda Law.

Though relatively quiet in recent years, including one year where the party moved to a field in Poland, FUDAFest has attracted national attention over the last 25 years.

About a dozen years ago, nearly 50 law enforcement officers led by the Maine State Police Tactical Team surrounded some 400 festivalgoers and searched them for illegal substances.

There have been arrests, wreckers have been sent to tow illegally parked cars, and partygoers have thrown bottles at the drivers.

One year Norway police closed off McKay Road to all but local traffic.

About a dozen years ago, selectmen decided to require a mass gathering permit.

This year, Police Chief Rob Federico said he has no special plans for monitoring  the festival.

At the time the ordinance was put in place, Federico said its primary purpose was to make sure the town was aware of large group events, so emergency personnel, road crews and others could be prepared in case of a fire, disturbance or other emergency.

“Everyone knows this law was put into place because of FUDAfest and it has been dubbed as Fuda Law. We protest unjust laws so their answer is to make more laws,” Fuda said at the time.

In 2009, the town sought a temporary restraining order against Fuda when he failed to apply for the permit for his festival. The order was denied by a Lewiston court judge who questioned why the order was requested only several days before the event.

While the party is just underway, all was not feel good in the world of FUDAFest, according to its Facebook page. There have been complaints from some about being robbed, seeing minors being served alcohol and pills in the past and being charged $35 “at the door” for tickets.

“It’s nothing like it used to be,” one person wrote. “This place used to be a blast but I can’t see paying $35 to get in. Aaron used to walk around with mushroom tea naked, all types of drugs flow around and who knows now, it’s probably flooded with heroin. If you go, be safe and smart.”

Fuda did not respond to emails from the Sun Journal.

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