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Tim Quoted in Article Regarding Wiscasset Raceway Case and Oxfest

From the Times Record - http://www.timesrecord.com/.

Wiscasset OKs future concerts



By Seth Koenig, Times Record Staff

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 2:09 PM EST


WISCASSET — Concert organizers who brought big name rock bands to Wiscasset last summer for a show that attracted 10,000 fans earned preliminary approval for two more such events in 2011.

But even with Wiscasset officials’ consent for more high profile concerts next summer, organizers say the proposed music festivals might be held in Bangor instead.

The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night conditionally approved special amusement permits for Wiscasset Raceway and its owner, Doug White. With the permits, the race track gained an initial OK to schedule another all-day heavy metal festival like the one held there July 31.

That concert featured national acts Shinedown, Sevendust, Chevelle and Puddle of Mudd. The speedway also can move forward with plans for a similar event centered around country music in the summer of 2011.

But the board approvals for Oxxfest and Countryfest, as the two multi-band concerts will be called, did not come without complaints.

Some residents who live near the raceway told selectmen Tuesday that the 2010 edition of Oxxfest damaged their quality of life.

Kim Hunter of West Alna Road was one of a number of nearby residents to decry the noise and foul language broadcast through the neighborhood over the concert speakers. She said she left home the afternoon of the show to get her children out of earshot of the swears and loud heavy metal.

“I told my husband, ‘This is what you hear in a horror movie before something very bad happens,’” she recalled.

Portland attorney Timothy Zerillo submitted a letter to be read into the record on behalf of raceway neighbors Rhonda and Dale Hamlin. Zerillo wrote that residents speaking in favor of the event — and against concert opponents such as his clients — were largely those to benefit financially from the show, by charging concert-goers to park on their properties.

He wrote that the Hamlins suffered as a result of the concert venue’s insufficient water supplies and portable toilets, as ticket-holders approached the couple for drinks and urinated on their property.

Other complaints lodged Tuesday night included an increase in litter and the fact that rock fans were dangerously walking long distances along rural roads to get from makeshift field parking lots to the concert.

“I don’t believe money is the root of all evil,” Zerillo wrote, “but money can turn longtime friends and neighbors against one another, and that’s what we’re witnessing in Wiscasset.”

Steve Smith, who helped manage the first Oxxfest for Wiscasset Raceway, said concert organizers have addressed many of the complaints in their draft plan for next summer’s shows.

He said the raceway will double the number of portable toilets on site during future shows. Smith also said most of the foul language heard during last summer’s concert came from the local bands who played during the day before the headliners took the stage. He said a member of the concert promotion team assigned to work with the local bands and stress the importance of clean language did not show up for Oxxfest 2010, and that worker will be replaced if the raceway hosts concerts in 2011.

“I can be pretty confident in saying (the excessive swearing) won’t happen again,” Smith told selectmen Tuesday.


Smith also said property owners down the street from the speedway had told drivers that parking lots at the race track were full, when they weren’t. Smith said the venue plans to sell on-site parking vouchers along with the concert tickets next time around to ensure that everybody who can park at the raceway — or two affiliated adjoining locations — does so. He said the venue can accommodate between 90 percent and 100 percent of the vehicles due to arrive at the festivals, so there should be no concert-goers forced to walk long distances from their cars to the shows.

The special amusement permits awarded by selectmen Tuesday are contingent upon all final plans for the concerts being submitted — and approved by local police, ambulance and other public safety authorities — 90 days before the events. The permits also require that any payment for town resources, such as extra police officers, will be paid 10 days prior to the events. Both the Oxxfest and Countryfest permits were approved Tuesday by a single 5-0 vote of the selectmen.

Even with the preliminary approvals, however, Smith told those in attendance that the festivals might be bound for Bangor instead. Smith said there’s a “75 percent chance” the concerts will be held in the Queen City instead of Wiscasset.


Alex Gray of New England Concerts, the promoter behind the annual Oxxfest events, also organizes Bangor’s Waterfront Concert series, which has built momentum in recent years by scheduling performers such as country star Alan Jackson.

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