Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2001
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Associated Press


STARKS -- Freedom Fest, an annual music festival put on by the Maine Vocals 
marijuana advocacy group, went smoothly and didn't break any laws over the 
weekend, officials said.

State police said there were complaints about loud noise and a report of a 
man being mugged. But the event didn't violate the town's ordinance 
requiring a permit for a gathering of 750 people or more for six hours or 
more, Starks Selectmen Chairwoman Cathy Cole said.

''He never triggered the ordinance,'' Cole said. ''I believe noise was the 
biggest factor.''

Freedom Fest is organized by the Maine Vocals to raise money to lobby for 
the legalization of marijuana. Now in its fourth year, the festival is a 
precursor to the larger and older Hempstock, which will be held Aug. 16-19 
and is now in its 11th year.

Law enforcement officials say they are now preparing for Hempstock, and 
will meet soon with state and town officials to organize. Earlier this 
month, the Starks Planning Board denied a mass-gathering permit for the event.

Don Christen, founder of Maine Vocals, said Monday he plans to resubmit the 
application with more information, even though he claims the ordinance is a 
violation of people's right to assemble.

At Freedom Fest, police responded to a report of a man in his late teens or 
early 20s being beaten and robbed of $60 to $80, state Police Sgt. James 
Urquhart said. The man's parents took him to a hospital, and he was treated 
and released, Urquhart said.

Freedom Fest was held at a farm owned by Harry Brown, where Hempstock and 
Harvest Fest, slated for October, are also held.
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