BELGRADE — The Caravan came and went without a hitch.

No complaints were filed about the annual three-day music festival, according to the town’s Board of Selectpersons, who decided Tuesday night not to pursue a potential ordinance violation.

The Caravan, which brings bands and fans from the Philadelphia area to a site on Bluebird Drive, off Sahagian Road, owned by the Manser family, had been the target of a newly adopted ordinance.

The ordinance — and the selectpersons — indicated that the festival organizers needed a permit to operate this year.

However, most of the board members were unwilling to have authorities issue citations for violations, saying it would be difficult to determine just how many people attended the festival.

Despite some dialog with town officials, organizer Matt Manser didn’t apply for one. The ordinance requires advance notice and a permit for crowds of 300 or more with exceptions for municipal and school events. It was drafted and adopted after some neighbors complained about the noise from previous Caravan festivals. The permit fee is $200.

“The festival was three days long, with 206 tickets sold, 21 bands and four caterers,” Town Manager Gregory Gill said on Tuesday. He said he obtained those numbers from looking at a website where those tickets were being sold.

Gill said he saw prices of $95 per ticket.

“It’s definitely commercial,” he said.

Manser did not respond Wednesday morning to phone or an email messages seeking information about this year’s event.

In a letter sent to town officials in May, 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.

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.”

Selectman Bruce Plourd said he wondered whether it was worth having an ordinance if it was not going to be enforced.

Complaints about the activities going on at past festivals led voters to adopt the ordinance at Town Meeting in March.

“It’s a questionable ordinance to me,” Plourd said Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of talk about it since it was put in.”

Plourd said he has concerns about events, including weddings and funerals, that inadvertently could attract more than 300 people.

“Are we going to fine them?” he asked.

Gill has said no one has applied for a permit under the town’s Mass Gathering Ordinance, which also requires a performance bond, detailed plans, abutter notification, proof of insurance and a host of other things.

Gill also said organizers of Camp Bomazeen, owned by the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, inquired about whether the event needed a permit, which prompted him to send notices to a number of nonprofit organizations indicating the ordinance didn’t require one.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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