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Bluegrass festival gets commission’s blessing

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

A bluegrass festival that has been held in Levy County for 28 years got the County Commission's blessing for a conditional use permit for the 40 acres that will eliminate the need to keep coming back twice a year for a festival permit. 

The unanimous approval by the commission will save the property owner and festival organizer from having to pay $700 to apply for a permit each time the twice-a-year festival is held. 

Dave L. Elliott of Trenton, and Tin Roof Shack Productions and Darby Landing – 40 LLC, made the request for the permit to hold the Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival twice a year at the site on Southeast 127th Terrace outside Inglis. 

There is a 91-foot by 119-foot pole barn where concerts are staged and the audience can sit under a cover. Participants and visitors also camp out on the property during the festival and vendors set up in conjunction with the event. Elliott said, “That's what these events bring – people who want to come play music.”

The county Development Department staff report said the event takes place on about 3 acres of the almost 40 acre site off County Road 40. 

Some commissioners were familiar with the event with Commissioner Mike Joyner of Morriston (R-District 3) saying he had attended the family-oriented events.  “It is the best Christian music you will hear,” Joyner said. 

Commissioner Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4) added levity to the meeting by recalling, “I met Sheriff (Johnny) Smith there once when he was telling me I was in the wrong field of work.”

County Attorney Anne Bast Brown worked with the commission to make changes to the proposed order approving the conditional use, including changing the Friday-Saturday date to allow the festival to be held on three consecutive days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

The permit also needed to be approved because the organizers are holding the spring event on Friday, March 14, and Saturday, March 15. The second event is in November, the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Commissioners John Meeks of Bronson (R- District 1) and Chad Johnson of Chiefland (R-District 2) both lamented that the property owners were being required to go through the county Planning Commission and County Commission to get approval for an event that has not caused any problem. 

“I am going to get on my stump and rant about government. We've had this for 28 years and never had a problem and now they gotta jump through all these hoops.”

Johnson placed the blame for government requirements “because of the actions and conduct of other non-law abiding citizens.”