‘Where Life Begins’ Shut Down

An Oregon electronic festival called “Where Life Begins” discovered Sept. 9 that without the proper permits, court is where festivals end.

A Eugene, Ore., judge shut down the three-day dance party and campout just as hundreds of campers and DJs began filling the site, located northwest of Eugene.

The event had taken place for 11 years at the Swamp Creek Valley site without permits, argued organizer Russell Gorman of Portland, Ore. And because fewer than 3,000 were expected, he said, a permit was not required.

Judge Karsten Rasmussen disagreed and issued a temporary restraining order against the event. Lane County sheriff’s deputies began blocking roads into the site, but found there were already hundreds of tents already pitched at the locations, DJs had hauled in equipment and stages were already being built, according to Eugene’s Register-Guard.

“The party’s here,” festival coordinator Chet Wilson told the Register-Guard. “We have all the artists and the equipment. Are they really going to shut us down?”

While deputies were stationed at roadblocks and law enforcement agencies arrested people trying to enter the grounds on Bureau of Land Management backroads, officials said they were reluctant to remove fans and artists who had already arrived. Many were adamant the show would go on, court order or not.

“I’m not seeing why we should not go in,” a festival attendee from Portland, Ore., told the paper. “It says it’s closed, but I don’t care at this point.”

And he wasn’t alone. Music from the barricaded festival site reportedly could be heard well into the afternoon Sept. 11, the final scheduled day of “Where Life Begins.” The party began Sept. 9, despite the court order issued earlier in the day, and deputies reported hearing music at an intersection two miles from the site until about 5 a.m. the next morning.

The TRO prohibited the “selling or honoring [of] tickets for … supporting or conducting the ‘Where Life Begins 2011’ event in Lane County,” according to the sheriff’s office. It wasn’t clear if charges would be pressed because of the party that went on despite the order, and Gorman indicated to local media he may sue.

County officials said the 2010 festival on the property, a leveled field surrounded by forested hills, drew 3,000 to 4,000 people and suffered from inadequate security and too much traffic. Gorman reportedly paid a $5,000 fine for failing to get proper permits last year.

Gorman and property owner Brian Hamilton strenuously argued during the Sept. 9 hearing that the event would be safe and cited an agreement with Elite Security Services, an Ohio company with offices in Eugene. However, reps from Elite told the Register-Guard that the firm would not be involved because of the permit flap.

According to the festival’s Facebook page, local and regional electronic artists were scheduled all night long Friday and Saturday nights, with final sets beginning as late as 8 a.m. the following mornings. Tickets were listed at $55 and $70.