The Jackson County Board of Commissioners rejected an application for the Apple Jam Music Festival after dozens of Applegate Valley residents spoke out Wednesday, saying their Thompson Creek Road neighborhood wasn’t the right place for the multiday May concert.
The residents had circulated a petition against the festival location.
Commissioners Colleen Roberts and Bob Strosser voted to deny the application, while Commissioner Rick Dyer voted against the motion (corrected from previous version for clarity).
Roberts said she didn’t think health and safety concerns could be alleviated, even with a host of conditions the county would have imposed on the festival.
Dyer said he had sympathy for the neighbors’ concerns, but voted based on the rule of law and equal treatment.
Blake Norris, one of the organizers of the 10th annual Apple Jam Music Festival, said organizers had heard about the petition against the Thompson Creek Road location and have scrambled to find a back-up location along Williams Highway, also known as Highway 238, in Josephine County.
Speaking after a Wednesday public hearing, Norris said he didn’t know the address of the new location off-hand.
In 2017, the music festival was held near Provolt, but it had to look for a new location after an ownership change involving the Provolt-area property, Norris said.
Norris said the festival has grown from its early days as a small, grassroots venue to spotlight singers and musicians.
He said the 2017 festival attracted fewer than 2,300 people, although some neighbors said they heard estimates the crowd had reached 4,500 last year.
Neighbors said the proposed 2018 location along Thompson Creek Road has no cellphone coverage, includes a riparian area and creek and is in a quiet agricultural area. They said the narrow, winding road could not accommodate thousands of car trips, and the site would turn into a virtual city of tents and recreational vehicles.
“It’s mind-boggling that an event like this can go on in a neighborhood,” resident Andrew Schwarz said during the public hearing before the commissioners’ rejection of the application.
The Apple Jam Music Festival was proposed from May 18-20, with set-up starting May 16 and clean-up scheduled for May 21. Music was planned from noon until 2 a.m., according to the festival’s application.
Norris said the festival would run on the same days in Josephine County.
Resident Tom Klinefelter said he was adamantly opposed to the festival along Thompson Creek Road, especially with bands scheduled to play until 2 a.m.
Although live music is scheduled to end at 2 a.m., the festival is advertising on its website that silent disco was scheduled to run until dawn.
During silent disco events, dancers listen on wireless headphones.
The festival is advertising that drugs and guns would not be allowed, and festival-goers would only be allowed to buy alcohol from on-site vendors. Offenders would be ejected from the event, according to the festival’s website.
However, resident Larry Francis said people thrown out of the festival would have been tossed into the surrounding Thompson Creek Road neighborhood.
Organic vegetable farmer Josh Cohen said when the festival was near Provolt, a concert-goer stole one of his employee’s vehicles and drove it to California, where its tires were spike-stripped by law enforcement.
The vehicle theft caused a great deal of trouble for his employee, who had to retrieve her vehicle and go to court, Cohen said.
Thompson Creek Road resident Geraldine Leinfelder said she suffered a heart attack last summer and it took paramedics a half-hour to reach her on the busy Fourth of July holiday. She said she was traumatized at the thought of all the traffic that would have been on Thompson Creek Road during the festival.
Leinfelder said the Apple Jam Music Festival has grown into a large public event and needs to be staged in an appropriate venue with adequate infrastructure.
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