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Published: 2006/07/14

The Future of High Sierra

The High Sierra Music Festival concluded a little over a week ago, yet festival organizers are already responding to complaints regarding the behavior of law enforcement, with a look towards the future location of the event. The festival has released the following statement:
Usually we come back from the festival, recuperate, unpack, and focus on what went well and what improvements should be made for the following year’s festival. This year has been a little different. While the commentary on the event itself has been positive, the outpouring of feedback regarding law enforcement behavior at the festival has been most prominent and the festivals future in Quincy has come into serious question. This is not the first time we have heard such complaints.
Despite our consistent endeavors to present a safe and secure festival the application of law enforcement at High Sierra seems to have worsened gradually over the past few years, a fact to which many of our patrons can attest. Until this point, we have been quietly working with the Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney’s office, and other appropriate county officials to improve the way that local law enforcement applies and enforces the law at our festival. Approaching High Sierra 2006, we felt optimistic that our proactive efforts would result in an improved situation. Unfortunately, after the first night of the fest it became abundantly clear that this would not be the case.
Many of you have expressed your own concerns to the local newspaper and appropriate county officials. Rest assured that your voices are being heard in Plumas County and we encourage you to keep the truthful accounts coming. Your individual stories can indeed speak more poignantly and effectively than a paraphrase of your words delivered by the festival. If you or anyone you know was involved in or was witness to what could be considered inappropriate conduct and have not yet shared your experience, we encourage you to please make a formal statement through our online contact form (you may do so anonymously if you wish). These testimonials are imperative without proper documentation and a way to quantify the circumstances, the process degenerates into hearsay.
There were a total of 47 arrests and citations made at the festival. At face value, 47 incidents for a 4-day, 8,000 person event doesnt make for overwhelming evidence of law enforcement overstepping their authority. Yet those numbers are deceiving when the harassment and general heavy-handedness is taken into account. Unfortunately, the arrest numbers compile the bulk of the hard data that is looked to as county officials weigh the facts and decide whether changes need to be made. This is where your personal accounts can make the difference in painting a more accurate picture of any and all rights violations.
It is clear to us that the situation has reached a tipping point. We basically have two options; we can remain in Quincy and continue working within the local community to improve things or we can move the festival. We will be pursuing both avenues and carefully weighing their consequences in the coming months. At this time we have resumed communications with the Board of Supervisors and made it abundantly clear that without significant changes in law enforcement practices, High Sierra Music Festival cannot continue in Plumas County. As we also consider our legal options, wed like to put a call out to any festival-friendly attorneys who might be willing to work on a pro bono basis to advise us on our situation. Offers of legal assistance can be directed to our online contact form or we can also be reached by phone at 510.420.1529.
Even as we explore every option and seek new festival frontiers, we remain hopeful that we will be able to affect change and reach an amicable solution that will allow the festival to remain in Quincy. Since making our home in Plumas County, weve built innumerable positive relationships within the community, earned the trust of a majority of county officials, and honed our logistical game plan to efficiency. Moving the festival is not only a major logistical undertaking, there is no guarantee that moving to another location will produce different results. We have a few ideas, but if you know of a site that might be a good fit for High Sierra please let us know we are certainly open to suggestions. Keep in mind that accessibility and proximity to amenities are important considerations.
Finally, please know that we hear your concerns and that they echo our own. This is an important time for the festival and we are faced with some critical decisions. As we move forward, please trust that we are doing what we can to ensure the future of High Sierra, maintain the festivals integrity, and protect the rights of everyone in our festival community.
Thank you for being part of our High Sierra family. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

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