Three-day Hempfest in Aroostook County lacks proper permits

Posted Sept. 04, 2014, at 2 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 04, 2014, at 7:10 p.m.

STOCKHOLM, Maine — A pristine site in Stockholm that overlooks Madawaska Lake is set to be the site of a three-day music and camping festival this month that will seek to demonstrate how vital hemp can be to Maine’s economy.

An official with the town of Stockholm, however, said Thursday that the fete might not happen, as the proper permits have not been secured to conduct the event.

Music Mountain Hempfest is scheduled to take place Sept. 19-21 at 146 West Road in Stockholm, according to Mark Ward, founder of Local Noise Entertainment and promoter for Hempfest. The event also is being brought to the area and promoted by Independent Promotions & Productions, Indie Scene Radio and Indie Mayhem.
The event will mimic a modern version of Woodstock — the famous music festival held on a farm in the Catskills of New York in 1969 — and has a variety of sponsors, Ward said Wednesday. The site overlooks Madawaska Lake and the St. John Valley. It will include 30 bands and three days of activities, including dancing, camping, a Miss Music Mountain modeling contest and various vendors.

But all of those plans could be on hold as the town released a statement on Wednesday saying “no permits had been applied for or approved” for the event. Town officials said that the host would need a special amusement permit from the town, as well as a fire permit for the campsites.

Ward said Thursday that the owner of the property, Jack Sargent, was responsible for securing the proper permits prior to advertising for the event. He said that he had left several messages for him Thursday and was trying to work out the “miscommunication” and correct whatever had gone wrong.

“This isn’t right,” he said. “I was told this was all taken care of. I was also told that it wasn’t as hard to get permits in that area as it was in other areas. I am from Rhode Island, so I am not familiar with the permitting process in Maine.”

Ward said that he had been contacted by Sargent, who markets the property as Mainiac Mountain Motor Sports and Music Mountain, about having the event in Stockholm.

“Usually, we do Hempfest farther south,” Ward said. “We have had Hempfest in Boston and Seattle. We’ve never had it so far north, so this is a first for us. Basically, we want to show all of the uses for hemp in making clothes and fuel, we want to educate people about the uses for hemp, beyond what they already might know. We really want to demonstrate how important hemp still can be to the economy.”

At the event, some groups plan to spread awareness concerning legalization for both recreational and medical marijuana use, according to Hempfest’s Facebook page. Others plan to spread information about how hemp can be used to make food, clothing and medicine.

Hempfest is for people of all ages to attend, however, children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Ward said Thursday that all of the groundwork, such as applying for permits, set up for the site, details related to camping, and more are the responsibility of Sargent, since Ward does not live in Maine. He added that “this situation is not something we come across very often.”

He added that Sargent would be the one losing money if he was not able to host the event.

“But it is a little disappointing for us to see that someone has contacted us to host an event, and then for us to realize that he hasn’t even taken the proper steps to set it up himself,” Ward said.

Sargent did not return calls left for him by the BDN Thursday.

The event is not affiliated with Hempstock, Maine’s best-known annual pro-marijuana festival, which just held its 24th gathering in August in Harmony. Don Christen, the organizer of that event, said on Wednesday afternoon that he had never heard of “Hempfest,” but had heard of Mark Ward.

“He contacted me quite some time ago about using my venue, but then I never heard from him again,” Christen said. “We are not affiliated with them.”

Bands scheduled to perform at Hempfest include The Cosmic Factory, Afterblack, Wicked Blues Band, Normal Bean (David Peel of the Grateful Dead), Berry Melton (Country Joe & The Fish), Trails, Slick Aguilar (Jefferson Starship) with Leaving Eden and Dan Lawson Band

Hempfest is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, to 11 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21. Tickets for the festival are currently on sale for $65 for all three days of music and camping or $25 for single-day admission. Tickets are on sale for early purchasers, who can save $20 on weekend passes for only $45 if ordered from the Music Mountain website: musicmountainmaine.wix.com/hempfest.

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