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Past issues with music festival in Powell Butte result in higher deposit and tighter time restrictions

Past difficulties dealing with a local music festival have prompted Crook County officials to demand more accountability and money for the event to continue this year.

In early June, the Crook County Court considered an application for Crawfest, a Powell Butte-based event that was started 10 years ago local veterinarian Jake Crawford. The multi-day festival, scheduled for July 13-16, takes place on 40 acres of Crawford's property. He started the event as a way to share music with his friends and family.

Crawfest has steadily grown through the years from a small gathering with a single, hand-built stage to a festival featuring numerous musical acts and two professionally produced stages. Music genres include country, bluegrass, rock, pop, punk, reggae and metal.

But success has come with issues, which came to the forefront as Crawford came to the county for approval for a mass gathering permit for the festival. County law enforcement pointed out that past events have generated complaints from nearby neighbors, and in some of those instances, Crawford could not be reached to deal with them.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford stressed the need for the Crawfest founder to be available by phone at all times during the event, saying it is "extremely important for the event to continue."

Ann Beier, the county's assistant planning director, took it a step further, requesting that Crawford not only be available by phone, but provide a couple back-up contacts in case he cannot be reached.

Another source of debate revolved around the bond amount expected to the Crawfest organizer. He pointed out that last year, former Judge Mike McCabe agreed to waive it, and he hoped for the same this year or to pay up to $1,000.

"This is not a money-maker deal," he said of the festival. "I started this for the love of music and friends' bands."

However, County Counsel Jeff Wilson argued for $5,000, pointing out that McCabe waived the fee last year with the expectation he would comply with guidelines set forth by the county. Wilson said that he did not live up to that end of the deal, and failed to pay fees in a timely manner that were charged by the county to cover law enforcement costs incurred while responding to complaints.

Judge Crawford and Commissioner Brian Barney agreed the bond should be higher to ensure that law enforcement expenses are covered, but opted for a lower $2,500 amount. Both officials said that if the Crawfest founder shows better compliance, they would consider lowering the bond amount in future years.

The festival quiet time was also discussed since some of the complaints alleged that the Crawfest acts played amplified music beyond the midnight deadline. Commissioner Jerry Brummer initially suggested a 10 p.m. quiet time, but Judge Crawford pushed for 11 p.m., which the county officials later embraced.

In addition, Beier requested that Crawford submit a security plan that the sheriff's office and county emergency management could review.

Like any mass gathering permit discussion, the matter was subject to a public hearing. Crawford read a letter from Powell Butte resident and neighbor D.C. Lundy, who was complimentary of Crawfest and the way the event founder had run the festival in recent years. His letter was signed by four other adjacent neighbors. Another neighbor, Linda Stelle, spoke positively about the event.

"We have been there for the 10 years of the Crawfest, and I would say that it has grown and matured," she said, adding that she was particularly impressed with the setup last year. "I would encourage you to support this. As long as he lives up to what all of you folks are requiring of him, I think he is doing a good job."

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