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

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Middletown Press: July 29, 1970

Officials Say Stay Away

BANNED FESTIVAL CROWD GROWS

By ALAN MAGARY

The Powder Ridge rock festival has turned into a tangled mess with only one thing for certain - the 4,000 or so early arrivals for a banned festival are having a pretty good time.

Among events:

- State Atty. Vincent J. Scamporino, ordered to enforce the ban in the festival, said this evening he was doing "everything that is humanly possible." He has talked mainly with State Police on a plan to "discourage" people from trying to attend the canceled festival. "We don't want any trouble and don't want to ignite any trouble, but at the same time the ban must be respected and obeyed." He said no warrants for arrest have been issued, saying only "They will be issued as the occasion arises." It was "discussed" but nothing was decided on attempting to clear Powder Ridge of festival-goers. "My position is to enforce the ban. I can't do it without other law enforcement agencies, in this case the State Police."

- The gate at Powder Ridge has generally been opened to all comers. What will happen to them is uncertain.

- Producer Alan Sherr notified the Superior Court here that he had submitted his resignation to Middleton Arts International, the promoters, effective yesterday, and has gone back to his home in New York City.

- Atty. Burton M, Weinstein, Bridgeport, who represented the promoters at the five-day court hearing has withdrawn from the case.

- Attys. Richard and Robert Zeisler, general counsels to Middleton Arts, have resigned because there was a "question of being obedient in the face of the injunction." "We're out of it," said Robert Zeisler.

Promoters Ousted

- Louis Zemel, co-owner of Powder Ridge, yesterday told representatives of the promoters to leave the premises, which they did, and denied the gates would be "thrown open" to rock music lovers. "The gates are not theirs to throw open," he said.

- Zemel told the New York Times that he was requesting State Police help, if necessary,

to remove from Powder Ridge Atty. Laurence Levner, New York City lawyer for Raymond J Filberti, one of the promoters.

- A rally tentatively set for this morning, at which Zemel was expected to appeal to the early arrivals to leave, was postponed until later today.

- Zemel was scheduled to meet with States Atty. Vincent J. Scamporino at 2 p.m. Scamporino was named yesterday by Judge Aaron J. Palmer to enforce the injunction against the festival, using "the full power of the state" to carry it out.

Traffic Plan

- The State Police will implement their plan to divert traffic, create one-way streets and keep traffic moving through Middlefield tomorrow at 8 a.m.

- A high court official repeated Judge Aaron J. Palmer's vow to stop the festival. The injunction, the official said "is preventative. It's not punishment for something done. It's preventative. The court will not allow a festival, that's all."

- There were widespread reports that "three officers" of Middleton Arts will "surrender to authorities, possibly this morning. This was not confirmed.

- Middlefield First Selectman Arthur Meckley again appealed to festival-goers to stay away from Middlefield. Town roads would be blocked to all but residents tomorrow, and State Police would keep traffic moving state highways, Meckley said. Pedestrian traffic - so far the main source of the Powder Ridge crowd, would be "discouraged," he said.

The high court official said Judge Palmer, by the necessity of "remaining impartial," had to "stay above the battlefield," and not deal in the "nuts and bolts" of court enforcement of the injunction blocking the festival.

Phone Threats

He said Judge Palmer had received some telephoned threats but was in the position "of vindicating the laws of the state of Connecticut and he's going to vindicate them."

The official criticized the press, specifically radio stations, for helping to create the crowd hoping to attend what he said was a canceled festival. He cited "irresponsible reporting" in equating a judge's decision with "what press agent says."

Atty. Aaron Ment of Bridgeport is reportedly in the process of appealing past Judge Palmer but it does not appear success likely.

Ment applied yesterday afternoon for a "dissolution of injunction and a stay of executions" on Judge Palmer's temporary. Injunction but was promptly rejected.

The application said the injunction "will cause irreparable damaged to the promoters and would "incur a substantial vital loss far in excess" of the $25,000 bond put up by the town of Middlefield to secure the injunction.

Will Appeal

Ment stated his intention to appeal to the State Supreme Court, but there is apparently a solid precedent in a 1958 case by then Chief Justice John Hamilton King.

In the case of Devine Bros vs. International Brotherhood, the judge's decision was that "the taking of an appeal from the granting or denial of a temporary injunction is ordinarily impossible since such an order is not a final judgment."

Judge Palmer said yesterday! that appeal was not possible since he had not issued a permanent injunction against the festival.

Festival Is Dead

The Zemels are not quite certain what to do about the "festival" crowd except temporarily to leave them there. Mrs. Betty Zemel said last night, we urge people "to stay! away and avoid a disaster. As far as we can determine, the festival is dead.

To avoid association with the promoters, who refused to say whether they would go along with the court order, pending at least an appeal to the State Supreme Court, the Zemels ordered Middletown Arts personnel producer Alan Sherr, site manager Herbert Zucker and Peter J. Pirrone, an officer of the firm off the premises yesterday afternoon "because we cannot cooperate with, them if the festival is illegal," said Mrs. Zemel.

A press released [sic] was issued yesterday afternoon stating, "We will not be a party to any illegal act."

Referring to the crowd of young people, she said, "At the moment we're not doing anything. She indicated the Powder Ridge owners did not feel "that we're doing anything wrong . . . in letting them stay here."

[part of article may be missing]

about noon to 2 p.m. today, to attract the crowd to the platform for a talk by Zemel.

Musical groups who had volunteered to provide music free today and tomorrow had been told not to come, said Mrs. Zemel. "No professional groups" would be allowed to perform, she emphasized.

Lack Enforcement

Whatever rules may, have been in effect on allowing young people to enter Powder Ridge in the past few days were imperfectly enforced.

Sometime yesterday, Middleton Arts personnel told the main gate security monitors to let in ticket-holders - but to take their tickets and exchange them for light green plastic wristbands, such as the ones hospitals use for identification.

Mrs. Betty Zemel said she suspected a ticket turned in would not in any case be redeemable, and ordered her staff to stop the is practice "as much as we could."

But last night, about 8 p.m., the Zemels began letting in all those holding tickets because, a said Mrs. Zemel, "the kids came in good faith, expecting to camp for free beginning on Wednesday. Powder Ridge operators did not want to quibble on when the free camping would start, she said, so it was decided to let them in early.

"'We're living up to the advertising even if Middleton Arts is out of it," she said.

But whatever rules may have been in effect at various times have been subject to interpretation by those manning the main gate. In use at Powder Ridge, as identification of some sort, and orange Powder Ridge festival badges, white Powder Hill (the previous name for the area, changed for the festival) badges, green wristbands and tags made of orange cloth. But many of the 2,000-odd young festival-goers were wearing none of these forms of identification.

Don't Need Them

One boy said he had two tickets but was trying to sell them to somebody else. "Don't need them" he said.

The State Police last night were still focusing on the somewhat clogged roads, making some attempt to turn cars with early arrivals around and out of town.

Stopping a Volkswagen microbus full of girls at the foot of Powder Hill Road, last night, Cpl. Robert Cabellus told them in a friendly but brisk manner, "Go back up this road (Rt. 147) to 66 turn left and, go to I-91 turn left again and go to Hamden. You can camp at a state park. Get a good night sleep and watch the newspapers."

There was no apparent attempt, however, to stop those walking into the area along 147 or Powder Hill Road from gaining entrance to the site.

The State Highway Dept., acting with the State Police, have placed several signs on major state highways warning,, "P. Ridge Fest. Prohibited. Court Injunction."

State Police have moved in some heavy field equipment from the Colchester Barracks. including a personnel carrier, an accident and emergency unit and a trailer truck. The police are using the top floor of the Middlefield fire house on Jackson Hill Road as a headquarters, but yesterday afternoon it was not an active place. Troopers are wary of reporters and are answering few questions.

Right With 'Em

Heard from one person inside the headquarters were the words, "If I were single and, I were their age, I'd be right there with 'em."

"State Police met along Rt. 66, the main artery in and out of town, last right had something of a friendly attitude toward the festival audience, although they are aware the festival has been banned.

No barricades have been erected, but they are positioned on some town roads ready to be put into use.

Towing operations are in effect to remove cars from private property and from roads, most, of which have been posted warning that parking is illegal.

Resident Trooper William Leonard refused to estimate number of cars so far towed. The cars are being taken to the Towers lots and can be reclaimed, said Leonard, on payment of the towing fee.

About a dozen cars parked at the Lake Beseck boat-launching area were towed away last, night.

First Selectman Arthur Meckley reported that about 3,000 of 4,009 resident passes have been issued so far. The passes will be I issued today at Chestnut Hill School until 6 p.m. Renters in the Beseck Community can pick up passes until 7 p.m. at the Community Clubhouse.

Local residents "seem to be happy" about the resident-pass arrangement, said Meckley. At least two persons were not - residents expecting to hold a wedding reception Saturday in Middlefield and some others expecting weekend guests.

Meet Outside

Meckley said, in the case of the wedding reception, that it is being held next to a state highway so that the guests can still attend. For those expecting to visit residents living on town roads, he said, "what we're telling the people to do is to meet them outside town in their own cars."

The first selectman issued another statement this morning pleading to festival-goers to stay away.

"Those who plan to come to Middlefield in hopes of attending a rock festival or just sightseers will be disappointed," Meckley stated.

We I believe there will be a full enforcement of the injunction; therefore the festival will be canceled.

"There is no parking available anywhere. All traffic will be moved through Middlefield as rapidly as possible. No one except town residents with passes will be permitted on town roads.

"You will be a big help to my town if you will just stay away Middlefield this weekend."

Meckley said he was confident that the townspeople, while concerned," will "remain calm."

We feel the ticketholders will also calm," he added. We will try to work everything out to a satisfactory conclusion.

 

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