Bad Vibes Scuttle Reggae Fest

A reggae festival scheduled at a 300-acre farm in Rutland, Vt., has been canceled because of low ticket sales and lack of sponsors, organizers said.

Promoter Bush I Harvey Ahmai, owner of Massachusetts-based The Almighty Group, informed the city the Vermont International Reggae Music Festival was scrapped after residents protested the event and town officials’ requirements made it impossible to go forward.

The event, scheduled for August 10-12, was to feature 20 acts including Everton Blender, The Alchemystics, Black Rebels, Red Meditation, Scholar’s Word and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.

In a statement on the festival’s Web site, organizers claim the required installation of more than a mile of fencing on the property, $100 vendor permits and securing a permit to access the Gerdon farm was just too much to deal with.

"Lack of sponsorship, insufficient pre-festival ticket sales, a commitment to paying a fair wage to reggae artists, and several attempts at derailing the festival by Rutland Town Select Board and community members has resulted in this action."

Ahmai told the paper he would have to invest about $40,000 to get the event off the ground, which was the main reason he pulled out.

Meanwhile, Rutland Town Board of Selectmen Chairman Stan Rhodes said it was too bad the festival won’t take place.

"I thought the organizers agreed to everything we asked," he said. "I don’t think you were going to put anybody’s mind at ease no matter how you regulate it.

"I think we were certainly hospitable. We didn’t do anything to stop their show."

The festival’s letter suggested the city’s aversion to the festival could be racially motivated, although it noted Vermont has historically welcomed reggae music.

"Several other references by community members revealed that anyone ‘different’ in beliefs or color were definitely not welcomed in Rutland Vermont," the letter said. "Someone on a local radio station asked, ‘Would they be doing this if it were the Vermont Symphony?’ We doubt it."