On one side is an event called Reggae on the River; on the other, Reggae Rising. Both were scheduled for the same weekend at the same riverside property. How that happened is confusing enough, let alone the who-owns-what of conditional permit usages and other paperwork.

The Reggae on the River Festival has been around for 23 years, and it was scheduled August 3-5. The lineup included Shaggy, Angelique Kidjo, Ky-Mani Marley, The Roots and a host of other marquee acts, but ROTR folded its cards May 15th, eating hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a statement. However, the dispute is far from resolved.

The festival still standing, Reggae Rising, is a recent product of the property owner and a promoter. And the promoter happens to be the original promoter for Reggae on the River.

Let’s start at the top: Both festivals apparently filed permits at the exact same time – as in practically within minutes of each other, according to an ROTR statement – and the Humboldt County Planning Commission apparently let both continue the permit process even as it became clear there was a conflict.

ROTR has been hosted by the non-profit Mateel Community Center. The fest was scheduled, as usual, to take place at the Dimmick Ranch and French’s Camp in Piercy, Calif., with a new promoter – 2B1 Multimedia of San Francisco. Mateel had let go of the longtime promoter, People Productions. That promoter teamed with Dimmick Ranch owner Tom Dimmick to produce the Reggae Rising Music Festival on the same dates and locations.

The MCC board decided to terminate its contract with People Productions in December. Dimmick then claimed that action meant MCC breached its contract to use his property and he terminated his lease agreement with the community center.

People Productions and Dimmick formed Reggae Rising, scheduled the event, filed the paperwork – and lawsuits began. It all boiled down to the fine print of property ownership and the red tape of permit usage.Ultimately, ROTR grudgingly relented and offered ticket refunds. Dimmick’s attorney, Jeff Knowles, said an attempt to compromise on the transfer of ticket sales and what name to use for the event went nowhere. He said the Mateel Community Center board wanted “Reggae on the River” but Dimmick believed it was counterproductive.

“At last we have clarity: There’s only one reggae festival in Humboldt County and that’s Reggae Rising, so we’re full speed ahead,” Knowles told Pollstar. “The real issue was [Mateel officials] wanted top dollar from us, which we agreed to give them, and that cut us to the bone.

“Then they wanted to hamstring us by limiting us to a name that was going to create confusion in the marketplace. We were concerned that if we eliminated the Reggae Rising name, which had started to gain some public awareness, and used only Reggae on the River, there’d be so much confusion that it would really hurt our ticket sales.” MCC attorney Bill Bragg told Pollstar his clients are disappointed at the lack of an accord.

“I feel the Mateel board negotiated in good faith and provided a number of options that would have allowed the Reggae on the River event to go forward,” he said. “None of those options were acceptable to the other side.”Bragg said the two sides had been trying to work things out for months in order to preserve the 23-year-old summer tradition, with no luck.

“There were attempts to resolve this with significant negotiations going back and forth for a long-term solution,” Bragg said. “The emphasis had been changed to see if we can get a resolution for the 2007 event. The bottom line, I suppose, at this stage of the game, is that both sides recognize they each hold a trump card.”

The trump card, as Bragg calls it, concerns who legally controls the conditional use permit to host the festival.

“Mr. Dimmick is taking the position that since he’s the landowner, conditional use permits only deal with conditions for the use of the property. They quote, ‘run with the land,’ unquote,” he explained. “The Mateel takes the position that he does not have control of the permit because this is essentially a hybrid permit. It was [issued] for a specific event governing a specific time and issued to a specific applicant, which has been identified throughout the years as the Mateel.

“This permit was originally issued for the French’s Camp property and was modified at the Mateel’s request to transfer it to another property. If it ran with the land and belongs solely to the landowner, one would wonder how that permit got transferred from one piece of property to another at the request of the Mateel.”

Other sticking points include who owns the infrastructure at the Dimmick Ranch, which both sides reportedly paid to have installed, and how much both parties owe to settle the business dispute, among other issues.Bragg said the parties will meet with an arbitrator to review Dimmick’s breach-of-lease issue in the next couple of weeks, and a trial date is tentatively set for November.