Rockfest 70 News Archive. Background Picture of Powder Ridge Rock Festival, Middlefield, CT 1970

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Hartford Times: July 28, 1970

COURT ORDER FINAL

Event Hopes Dim

By PAUL GALLAGHER Times Staff Writer

Promoters of the Middlefield Powder Ridge Rock Festival have no appeal from a temporary injunction issued against them, nor can they "buy their way past the court by paying fines," a top Superior Court official said today.

After a Middletown Superior Court decision Monday banning the scheduled three-day rock festival, lawyers for the festival planners said they would appeal the court's decision, hopefully in time to allow the festival to go on.

The influential court official, who declined to be identified, said, an appeal is doomed: "In Connecticut, an appeal from a temporary injunction is "not permitted," said the official, noting that the news might surprise those not familiar with Connecticut law.

He said state law does not have provisions for such an appeal. The official called talk from promoters and their lawyers that the festival was still on "sheer nonsense," and said that violators of the injunction were not only subject to fines, but to imprisonment as well.

The injunction, ordered by Judge Aaron Palmer against promoters of the festival, the owners of the Powder Ridge Ski property where the festival was to be held and the owners of parking areas readied for the three-day event, specified that fines would be imposed if the injunction is violated.

The promoters and Zemel Bros. Inc., owners of the ski area, would be fined $50,000 each, and the parking lot owners $10,000, for violation, the decision read.

The court official said Judge Palmer was not restricted to the penalties specified in the injunction, but could also jail violators for contempt of court.

He also expressed confidence that Judge Palmer intended to strictly enforce his decision, bringing the full power of the court to play, if that is necessary.

Rumors were spreading Monday that festival planners were thinking of paying the $110,000 fine and going ahead with the festival if their appeal is not upheld.

"You don't just buy your way out for $110,000 or even $5. million," he said. "The court ruled that the festival was a public nuisance. That doesn't mean it wants $110,000. It means it wants the festival stopped."

Meanwhile disagreement was developing on the festival grounds between Louis Zemel of Zemel Bros Inc., and officials from Middleton Arts International, organisers of the proposed festival.

"The Zemel Bros, intend to abide by the letter and the spirit of the law," Zemel told The Times Monday night. "We have asked Middleton Arts to do the same," he said.

"They are talking about an appeal. We are not appealing," Zemel said. "We ourselves will cease and desist from doing anything further to promote the event, with the single exception of seeing that there would be drinking water for those here," he said.

While the Zemels were calling for an end to preparation, Middleton Arts planners were giving the go-head.
A spokesman for the planners said construction was continuing and no new instructions had been issued to the concession firm, security force or medical personnel preparing for the festival. Ticket sellers, while temporarily out of tickets, said they would be resuming sales on the festival grounds early this morning.

The court injunction had specified that "immediate notice" be given to such agents of the festival to stop preparations. The spokesman explained that the town of Middlefield had not posted a $25,000 surety demanded by the court and, therefore, the injunction was not valid until they do so.

By the time the town posts the money the festival planners hope their appeal would be filed and that the court would be acting on it. The mere filing of an appeal will not stay an injunction, court sources say.

By 11 p.m. Monday, court officials reported the town had posted the $25,000, Judge Palmer had signed the necessary documents and the injunction was being served.

The planners made no decision as to what they would do if the court injunction remains valid and in effect. Most seemed to be putting the possibility out of their minds and going on as usual.

Richard Zeisler of Bridgeport; attorney for the planners, said, however, that he is certain his clients would not do anything illegal.

"My relationship with my clients has always been that we will have the festival and it will be legal," Zeisler said. "I think the courts will find room for this (the festival)" he said.

State Police Commissioner Leo J. Mulcahy went to Middlefield Monday afternoon to discuss implementing the injunction with festival planners. Reports indicated that police intend to blockade the entire area during the July 31-Aug. 2 weekend to prevent traffic tie-ups. Some said no visitors would be allowed near the Zemel properties.

A truck carrying 14 young people from out of state was stopped because of a motor vehicle violation early this morning near the festival site. The truck was stolen in Florida, authorities said.

State police said all 14, including two juveniles, were charged with having a defective muffler. The .pickup truck was stopped about 12:15 a.m. on Powder Hill Road, a fraction of a mile from the festival site.

Traffic in the area was reported bumper-to-bumper Monday night, with sightseers and those hoping the festival will be held despite the Superior Court order.

Local officials reportedly plan to block off the site and, allow only residents with car stickers on the road.

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