The JBR “Best Whip” contest at Hemond’s Motocross and Offroad Park on Aug. 1. Video screenshot from Cole Beach Photo

MINOT — Town officials say Hemond’s Motocross and Offroad Park is planning to comply with Maine COVID-19 guidelines for its upcoming Harvest Fest, after a complaint was issued regarding a previous event.

A complaint filed through the state’s reporting system and an email sent to the Sun Journal expressed concern over recent large gatherings at the park, including a weekend competition on Aug. 1 attended by hundreds of people.

Danielle Loring, Minot town administrator, said that a representative from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services contacted her this week regarding a complaint generated through the state’s reporting portal.

The Sun Journal received an email from a resident claiming “blatant disregard” for Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order on large gatherings, and that there were some 1,600 people in attendance during the August event.

Calls to owner Brittany Hemond were not returned by the Sun Journal’s deadline Thursday.

Loring said that as the local health officer, she is required to reach out following a complaint and “provide guidance and education” about the state’s requirements and “report whether the event’s organizer is willing to do such.”

The JBR “Best Whip” contest at Hemond’s Motocross and Offroad Park on Aug. 1. Screenshot from Jones Bro Ridas video

Loring said Hemond told her the upcoming Harvest Fest on Sept. 26-27 is a much smaller event and, historically, has only had 400 people in and out over the course of the two days, and not at one time.

“They are aware of the DECD (Department of Economic and Community Development) guidelines and willing to follow them, so I have reported that back to the state,” Loring said.

Mills’ executive order limits outside gatherings to 100 people and inside gatherings to 50. The limit for outdoor spectator events was increased to 200 in late July, but with the stipulation that attendees are seated in separate areas with no more than 50 people each.

Videos and photos posted to social media from the Aug. 1 event at Hemond’s clearly show hundreds of people in a large crowd with little to no masks and no social distancing, especially during a nighttime dirt bike “best whip” competition.

Minot does not have a mass gathering ordinance that requires permits for large events.

Hemond’s, at 695 Woodman Hill Road, features 600 acres of off-road trails and two motocross tracks, and often hosts regional races and competitions, serving food and featuring live music.

Harvest Fest is an annual fall event at Hemond’s with a marijuana theme. While the multiple tracks are open for various types of riding, several cannabis vendors will be on site with live art and music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to event details, there will also be an on-site physician available to write medical marijuana cards.

Despite the concerns over the August event, Hemond’s lists a full safety plan for Harvest Fest on its website, including maintaining social distancing and a request that attendees park campers and set up tents at least 6 feet apart.

It states that due to COVID-19, they will no longer serve a buffet-style meal, but that concessions will be open with food and beverages available.

“In a nutshell — let’s all be smart,” it states. “Pay attention and do your part to reduce the spread of COVID and take care of each other. Most of all let’s have some fun.”

 


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