UPDATED Court calls off hip hop concert

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County asked for order after organizers failed to get permit

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Organizers of a “Labor Day Hip Hop Extravaganza” near Williston on Saturday that was to draw performers from Tampa, South Florida and Texas, and more than 1,000 concertgoers has been halted by a temporary court injunction issued late Friday afternoon.

The injunction, issued Friday afternoon by 8th Circuit Judge William Davis, covers the entire county, so the event cannot be moved from its planned location on 2.4 acres at an RV park at 21151 N.E. U.S. Highway 27. 

The injunction names G.A.B., LLC, the property's owner; George A. Butchikas, of Panama City Beach, manager of GAB; Tamara J. Hughes, of Lynn Haven, the registered agent for GAB, Ronald Jimmy Webb, Jr., a DJ/performer at music festivals with the stage names “Big Bud” and “Bud Webb.”and Norman James, Jr., operator of So So Clean Car Wash located on the GAB property;

Davis said in his order that there was a danger of irreparable harm, that the event posed a threat to the health, safety and security concerns of Levy County residents and no adequate remedy was available, such a money to “atone for harms that will result from conducting a musical and entertainment festival without the proper permit and review.”

The order also noted that the county would be likely to succeed on the merits of its case because the concert's organizers failed to obtain a permit and make adequate arrangements to handle the expected crowd.

“The injury clearly outweighs the interests of the Defendants to perform, conduct entertainment, or to earn financial reward from the proposed activity,” Davis said in the order.

The Levy County Commission sought the injunction after hearing from the county attorney that it could violate a county ordinance and from the sheriff and his officers that it could pose problems with public safety.

"It has the potential for violence," Sheriff Bobby McCallum told the commission.  

On the minds of those in the meeting was the death of one man and the wounding of four others in a shooting during the Williston Crab Fest in April. One man has been charged in that incident but has not come to trial.

McCallum said they learned of the plans for a large concert, which has been promoted on social media, on Thursday evening when deputies noticed flyers posted about it and when a sound check was done on large speakers.

Webb told a sheriff's investigator that a crowd of more than 1,000 people was expected along with performers from South Florida, Tampa and Texas. The county's court filing noted that the deputies did not see any bathroom facilities, provisions for medical facilities, for internal or external traffic control or security, or for fire or other safety issues.

"This has the potential to have some safety issues," McCallum told the Levy County Commission in a hastily called emergency meeting at 11 a.m. Friday. "We are expecting the worst to happen. They are expecting to have folks coming in from Marion and Alachua county, coming in again from all over the state and out of state."

McCallum said the expected overflow of traffic would take over the median and the right of way along U.S. Highway 27 south of County Road 318.

While McCallum, Undersheriff Brett Beauchamp and Sgt. Mike Narayan outlined the situation for the commission, County Attorney Anne Bast Brown advised the commission that there is an ordinance that requires entertainment events, including a concert on private property, to apply for a permit from the county and to meet public safety and health requirements. 

"This is of extreme concern to all of us," McCallum said. 

Beauchamp said, "There's the potential for a very bad scene."

Commission Chair Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4) said there is a difference between the Crab Fest, which is an billed as an uncoordinated community celebration without organizers, and the concert which has organizers. "This would be considered an organized music festival," Bell said.

Brown said under the county ordinance for such events no one under 18 would be allowed in the event and sanitation would have to be provided by the organizers, as well as crowd management, parking and traffic control. 

The county also requires organizers of large events to provide for security and emergency medical services. That was an issue in the past when the owners of Horse Hole Creek Mud Bog staged regular events under a special exception permit that drew large crowds. The county required the owners to provide crowd and traffic control, security and emergency medical services. 

The sheriff assured the commission his office is prepared to handle turning away the expected large crowd and getting vehicles out of the way. He will call on mutual aid from other agencies in the region, including the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Transportation and sheriffs in neighboring counties. 

Commissioner Mike Joyner of Morriston (R-District 3) made the motion to seek the injunction and Commissioner Danny Stevens of Williston (R-District 5) seconded it. The vote was 4-0 with Commissioner Chad Johnson absent from the last-minute meeting