Festival canceled days before it starts

Electronic artist Liquid Stranger performs during the 2016 UpNorth Music and Arts Festival in Copemish. The inaugural event was held at the Twisted Trails Off Road Park. (Courtesy Photo)

Electronic artist Liquid Stranger performs during the 2016 UpNorth Music and Arts Festival in Copemish. The inaugural event was held at the Twisted Trails Off Road Park. (Courtesy Photo)

COPEMISH — More than a week before the event was proposed to start, the UpNorth Music and Arts Festival canceled on Thursday.

Event organizers issued a statement on Facebook breaking the news to its followers, who had been waiting for an event location.

“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you UpNorth Festival will not be happening this year,” an UpNorth Productions Facebook post said on Thursday.

Two days prior, event planners said a location would soon be announced. Copemish Township officials were awaiting the new location.

“We know how anxious you all are with the uncertainty of our location. Please know that we have been working around the clock to solidify a new location against difficult odds,” they stated, on Aug. 8.

Thousands of tickets had already been sold, but ticketfly.com released a statement promising refunds would be given promptly. Festival organizers said the event was not feasible with the short amount of time given to find a new event space.

“Eight months ago Twisted Trails granted us permission to have the event, so we went on sale with tickets. As things developed and we learned that the owners were no longer willing to work with us, we tried purchasing the land. We were unable to make this happen, so we went to our backup property,” event organizers stated.

The festival was supposed to take place on Aug. 18-20, at the same destination as last year —Twisted Trails Off Road Park in Copemish. However, Twisted Trails revoked its venue due to legal issues.

On Aug. 4, Twisted Trails posted a statement on Facebook: “We are not hosting the music festival for 2017. There are a lot of rumors flying about why the music festival is not being hosted on our property.

“Without going into extreme detail we hold many events on our property and are required to follow all local state and federal laws when doing so. We refused to come to a final agreement due to discussions on how these regulations must be followed.”

When attempting to coordinate event details with the artists, township and emergency personnel, festival planners said the endeavor was not successful. UpNorth said they were contact with another space in a different county, as well.

“The local law enforcement could not source enough personnel to sign off on the event. We tried contacting state police and other officers in the area. However, we were unable to allocate the personnel needed to hold the event,” UpNorth stated.

Last year, the festival had several violations. Police were concerned this year’s festival would bring a similar result.

In 2016, deputies responded to more than a dozen felony arrests and 44 medical runs at the festival. In addition, deputies performed nearly 150 traffic stops.

Although the event is now canceled, Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said law enforcement will be on high alert during the weekend it was scheduled.

“Twisted Trails has informed me they will be closed to the public; no permission will be given to enter their property until further notice,” O’Hagan said. “Failure to obey would be considered trespassing, which is misdemeanor and an arrestable offense.”

Hundreds of festival goers were disappointed with the cancellation and showed support to UpNorth for their dedication. Others were saying they are planning to show up on the festival date.

“We have a contingency plan in place through mutual aid agreements with several counties including the Michigan State Police,” O’Hagan said. “Law Enforcement will be on hand to ensure the safety and security of the immediate area.”

The festival artists were already paid prior to the cancellation. UpNorth Productions had no comment at the time of press.

 

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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