By Doug La Rocque
The arrest of 19 people on various drug related charges, from possession to intent to distribute, was announced on Tuesday, August 1, at a joint press conference by the Rensselaer County District Attorney, Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police. The drug arrests have clouded the future of the three-year-old event, but not at the urging of law enforcement or Town officials.
Stephentown Town Supervisor Larry Eckhardt tells The Eastwick Press, event organizers have told him they are concerned about future attendance, simply because drugs are not what the attendees are all about. One of the event’s organizers attended the news conference and said his organization does not condone intoxication from any source, and promotes sobriety, health and wellness. He described the three-day event as a gathering for psychedelic music, that often includes trance and meditation.
A press release issued by State Police said, “events such as this tend to draw individuals that are in the market to distribute and possess controlled substances.” Some of the drugs confiscated were, according to troopers, made to look like candy, such as gummy bears.
Eckhardt said past festivals did not create such problems, and that those in attendance followed the Town’s noise guidelines, requiring the music to stop by 1 am and not resume again until after 7 am.
He said this year there were several violations of this policy, and that he had to “visit the site a couple of times to get them to quiet down.” Town officials plan meetings with event organizers and law enforcement to discuss this year’s developments and the future of the festival before any decisions or changes are made.
The event was attended by an estimated 1,100 people. Four of those arrested have been indicted by a Rensselaer County Grand Jury. Eckhardt said that several of the charges have already been dismissed.
None of those arrested were local, most being from Massachusetts or California. The event was held from July 27 through July 30. Troopers said the arrests were made over the three-day period by both uniformed and plain clothed officers from their ranks and from the Sheriff’s Department.