Pulling Up Camp

Organizers of the Summer Camp Music Festivall held at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Ill., are looking for a new venue after park officials said they’re not interested in hosting the event again.

Three Sisters Park GM Chris Cassidy told the Peoria Journal Star the decision came after a local emergency room doctor sent a letter and a petition to park management requesting it no longer host the jam-band fest because of “numerous” drug overdose cases.

“Whether you realize it or not, this has turned into one of the Midwest’s most popular venues for the abuse of illegal drugs,” Dr. Richard Frederick wrote in his petition. He told the Star that an estimated 20 to 30 people were hospitalized for overdoses from drugs including LSD, GHB (the so-called date rape drug), cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol.

“Somebody is going to die one of these days,” Frederick told the paper.

Mike Armintrout, director of marketing for co-promoter Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment, said the company was notified of the change a week after the May 26-28 event.

“We’ve put six years into developing this festival at Three Sisters Park. It’s certainly not to the point that the park should make a decision based on a letter from, in our opinion, someone who’s never been to the festival,” Armintrout told Pollstar. “It’s really a positive event and it’s really terrible to see it potentially have to change venues because of a hasty decision.”

The marketing director also said the company contracted for an on-site medical team, police and security for the event, which attracted more than 8,000 concertgoers to see acts such as moe., Rusted Root, Umphrey’s McGee, and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Narcotics agents reported making 30 arrests during this year’s festival for possession of various drugs including LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy and ketamine, according to the Journal Star. There were 29 arrests in 2005.

Chillicothe Police Chief Steve Maurer said that despite those arrests, 95 percent of the Summer Camp crowd was there just to have a good time.

“The other 5 percent are those that follow the concerts selling drugs. You’ll have that at any concert, whether it’s here, in Peoria or wherever,” he told the paper.

Armintrout said the company, which co-promotes the festival with Jam Productions, is looking at five or six potential locations, some outside the state. He also said a grassroots campaign to keep the festival in Chillicothe is in the works.

“We’ve all put so much heart and effort and passion into [Summer Camp], to see this happen is mind-boggling and heartbreaking to all of us,” he said. “But we’re going to make sure the festival goes on whether it’s at Three Sisters Park or a new venue.”

Pollstar‘s attempts to reach Cassidy were unsuccessful at press time.

– Tina Amendola