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Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.

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All Good festival will not move to Caroline next year

BY PORTSIA SMITH

Organizers of the All Good Music Festival had considered moving its large annual event to Caroline County, but it won’t happen next year.

All Good promoters made an announcement yesterday that they’ve found a new home in Thornville, Ohio for the four-day show that allows concert-goers to camp out for the duration. The event draws about 25,000 people and will take place July 19-22, about 30 miles east of Columbus.

The festival had been held in the mountains of West Virginia since a 2001 appearance in Spotsylvania County, but organizers said West Virginia’s local officials never warmed up to the idea and passed a mass gathering ordinance this year that was “crippling” and levied “an outrageous tax.”

Tim Walther, president and co-owner of the All Good Music Festival, said the event had also outgrown the West Virginia location and they wanted to host the festival at Caroline’s Moss Neck Manor, a 1,200-acre site in Port Royal off U.S. 17 owned by the Silver Cos.

The festival would feature 14 to 16 hours of music a day, but that is twice as much as what is allowed by a Caroline ordinance, which prohibits more than eight hours of continuous music within a 24-hour period.

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors took no action last month on a proposal to amend the ordinance, which was requested by Walther and another festival organizer from Richmond.

In a phone interview with Walther today, he said although they have made plans in Ohio, they still have their eyes on the site in Caroline.

“We hope we have found our permanent home in Ohio, but we won’t know how well it works until after the event,” he said. “We like Caroline, we like the location, we like the people and the general concept of that area. We’re still interested in Caroline for future events.”

He said in previous years, his company, Walther Productions, had done four or five camping events during the summer, but had narrowed it down to just the All Good festival because it had grown so much. But he said he hopes to be able to host more events on a similar or even larger scale, and Caroline would be a perfect location for that, he said.

At an Oct. 11 meeting, supervisors asked county staff to research some amending options to the current code, which went into effect in 1971 after Woodstock. Even if an amendment is approved, each event would still need approval from the board. There has been no more discussion of the issue since that meeting.

Board chairman Floyd Thomas said last night that he had not heard about Ohio being selected nor had he heard from Walther since he made his inquiry.

Outgoing Port Royal District Supervisor Bobby Popowicz said he supports the proposed amendment and any event like that coming to Caroline to bring in revenue.

“I think in the future we need to keep an open mind about stuff like that,” he said last night. “We need to make sure we aren’t damaging the businesses that we have already. Caroline County has moved towards a business friendly atmosphere and we need to continue that.”

At the October meeting, Walther said his summer festival would employ 100 local people, generate about $250,000 in sales for local businesses and donate thousands of pounds of food to the local food bank. According to a 2010 report, the All Good Music Festival is estimated to have had a $1.1 million economic impact on Preston County, W.Va., and a $2.3 million impact on the state.

“We have a safe and successful event out there and bring a lot of revenue to the county,” Walther said about the West Virginia site.

Caroline supervisors voiced concerns about traffic along U.S. 17. Walther said traffic was not a problem in West Virginia, even along a one-lane road up and down a mountain.

All Good is facing multiple lawsuits related to the death of a 20-year-old festivalgoer. The Preston County Sheriff’s Office said a pickup rolled down a hill out of the control, striking cars and tents, including one in which the woman and two friends were sleeping.

Walther described it as a tragic accident, but said couldn’t discuss it further because of the lawsuit.

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