The Philadelphia man organizing an annual multi-day music festival in Belgrade has appealed to town officials over a new mass gathering ordinance adopted as a result of those festivals.

Matt Manser, whose family owns land off Sahagian Road on Bluebird Drive where the festival is held, wrote to the Belgrade Board of Selectpersons on behalf of the Caravan Music Festival “to clear up some misconceptions and inform the committee of our intentions.”

The letter is on the agenda for the selectmen’s meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office.

While he was not available to speak by phone, Manser said via email Sunday night, “This permit’s new, so the situation this year is still getting worked out. In years past we often inquired about event permits, but it was never necessary.” Information on the festival’s Facebook page indicates the festival will begin this year at 9 p.m. July 30.

“All of the attention has us switching to an ‘invite only’ plan — we don’t really have the means nor the desire to host anything larger,” he said.

In the letter to town officials, Manser said the festival is not a business and would not need a permit under the ordinance.


“It is a collection of musicians and their friends that have been coming to the area for seven years as guests of the Manser family, who have called Belgrade home in one sense or another over 45 years,” Manser wrote to the officials.

He said the gathering of professional and amateur musicians “is entirely run by volunteers and guests/attendees, who commit their time, effort, and buy a ‘ticket’ themselves to help feed everybody.”

Manser described the ticket as the method used to gather donations to have meals served, not sold.

“The money we collect pays for the obvious concerns like (portable toilets) and trash removal, but mostly to crowdsource and provide a meal coming from local Maine farm sources.”

He said neighbors are invited guests, and that the festival attendees from away shop at Day’s, Christie’s and in Belgrade Lakes, and even have a group brunch the final day at the Sunset Grille.

“It exists because of the passion of the group for Belgrade Lakes and for our musical values that brought us together for a decade as we spread across states and countries. This is an extended network of people who grew up in urban environments that hold dear the united getaway that our rural laketown provides. This upcoming occasion is mostly a wedding party for a union between two attendees, and we expect many more as years pass.”


Manser said the festival has been law-abiding and only once was the fire department called to the site.

“Caravan does not intend to, nor has it ever, attracted 300 people,” Manser said in closing, apologizing to the board for not being able to present his concerns in person.

The mass gathering ordinance, adopted 165-116 at the polls on March 20, requires advance notice and a permit for crowds of 300 or more with exceptions for municipal and school events. It was proposed after some neighbors apparently complained about the noise from the various Caravan festivals.

Town Manager Gregory Gill clarified some details regarding the ordinance in the town’s latest newsletter and indicated the $200 permit fee could be waived for good reason.

Gill said the ordinance does not affect nonprofit organizations.

“If you think your wedding party is going to be over 300, then come see me, or if your family gathering will be over 300, then come see me,” Gill wrote. “However, if you want to have 10 bands come in and sell tickets for a two/three day concert, you will need a permit.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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