Belmont music festival left police with headache

Posted Aug. 08, 2012, at 4:20 p.m.

BELMONT, Maine — Last weekend, more than 1,000 people came to the small Waldo County town of Belmont from all over New England and eastern Canada to enjoy themselves at a festival dedicated to music and art.

But this year’s 10th annual Beltek celebration left some local law enforcement officers with a headache, and not from the thump of the electronic dance music played by DJs there all night long. State police responded to several drug- and alcohol- related emergency medical calls at the private Lincolnville Road property that hosted the celebration, and Belfast police reported that they had a “spillover” drug issue in their community, too.

“I don’t want to say anything too negative against it, but if it were in my town, I wouldn’t want it there,” Maine State Police Trooper James MacDonald said earlier this week. “There was a lot of drinking and a lot of hardcore drugs that I dealt with [including] LSD. I’m sure there was a little bit of everything.”

Belmont does not have its own police force, and MacDonald and another state trooper were scheduled to patrol there as well as in several other towns over the weekend. In addition to the handful of medical emergencies that required calling for an ambulance, MacDonald responded to several noise complaints from upset neighbors.

“I think if it happens again, there will probably be more of us out there working to control it,” he said of Beltek.

Festival organizers hired a private security firm and were cooperative with police, the trooper said.

An organizer who did not wish to be identified said that members of the state police and Waldo County Sheriff’s Office were welcomed on the property throughout the event.

“We work very hard to make this a safe environment for everyone who comes. We hire a private security company. We enforce a strict no-drug policy,” the organizer said. “We are always looking at, and will continue to look at, how to make a safer event.”

Chief Mike McFadden of the Belfast Police Department said that some Beltek attendees were apparently staying at the Comfort Inn on Route 1 when one of them called police over the weekend to report that a New Hampshire man in the room was being combative.

Officers Eric Kelley and Brian Lund responded, and as soon as they opened the door the man tried to attack them.

“He ran into Eric Kelley and bounced off him,” McFadden said. “He landed on the ground, and [the officers] subdued him.”

The man, who has not yet been charged in relation to the incident, continued to be “assaultive and combative” to the police and appeared to be on some type of illicit substance, McFadden said. The man’s friends said that he had taken LSD while at the festival.

Police brought him to the hospital, where he was treated. They also sought permission to search his vehicle, and found white powder residue and $2,000 in cash, according to the chief.

“Once we get the results back from the test on the white powder, [he] may be in trouble,” McFadden said.

In regards to Beltek, the police chief also said that he heard a lot of negative reports in regard to the festival.

“It seems dangerous,” he said. “I know there were a lot of ambulance calls this time around. A lot of reckless behavior.”

Belfast Fire Chief Jim Richards said this week that he could not comment on the type of ambulance calls his department responded to because that is confidential information.

Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said that his agency is working on investigating the theft of a motorcycle that reportedly had been parked at Beltek.

Belmont First Selectman Barbara Bubar said Wednesday that in the last few years the town has rejected ordinances on noise and large gatherings that would have governed Beltek.

“It wasn’t well-received by the residents of Belmont,” she said. “Without an ordinance, it ties our hands.”

She said that while she has had concerns about the celebration in the past, her concerns are as a private citizen and not as a town official.

“The town really has no authority over private property and private parties,” she said.

The Beltek organizer said that the event gives an economic jolt to Belmont and Belfast every year.

“The majority of the town supports Beltek,” he said. “They come every year and tell us that.”

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