Thursday, March 15, 2007

Conflict Over Reggae Fest Goes To Court

You might expect the organizers of reggae festivals to maintain the same mellow vibes that their music imparts. However, the organizers of two different festivals, the Reggae On The River festival and the new Reggae Rising festival, have become so bitter over a venue that they took the issue to court, which resulted in a ruling that represented victory for Reggae Rising and defeat for Reggae On The River.

The first sign of trouble appeared when some of the staff who had organized the Reggae On The River festival for 23 years dissented from their fellow producer Mateel Community Center, Inc. on some aspect of the nature of the festival (the specifics of the dispute remain unknown). In response to the dispute, the dissenting staff members ended their collaboration with Mateel, and, under the name People Productions LLC, announced that they would hold the 1st edition of the Reggae Rising festival on the same date (August 3,4 & 5) and in the same venue (The Dimmick Ranch) as Mateel would hold Reggae On The River.

Faced with this conflict over his venue, owner Tom Dimmick sided with People Productions. However, Mateel filed to sue People Productions and Dimmick, claming that People Productions had been terminated as a producer of festivals on the Dimmick Ranch. Specifically, Mateel filed for a restraining order against People Productions on the days in which both were to hold festivals on the Dimmick ranch, in addition to filing for a legal confirmation of Mateel's right to hold the festival on the property for the three aforementioned August days.

The case eventually went to court, and resulted in a ruling the rejected Mateel's request to force Dimmick to allow them to use the venue as well as the producer's request for the restraining order against People Productions. Although he favored Reggae Rising, Dimmick remained optimistic about relations with Mateel after the ruling was given, and said, "The bottom line is that we're all neighbors...regardless of the ultimate outcome."

The dispute is not over though, as Dimmick still faces negotiations with Mateel over the terms of their withstanding lease on his property. This and the threat of appeal may explain why the Reggae On The River festival website is still up and running, promising that their festival will still launch on those disputed August days.

-- Ross Moody (Photo: A cover of the "Reggae On The River" DVD, featuring a full view of the Dimmick Ranch)

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