By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
8:02 PM EDT, May 23, 2013
The Moonrise Festival, a new electronic dance concert that was expected to draw thousands to South Baltimore, has been canceled only weeks before the event, after organizers failed to obtain the necessary permits, city officials said.
The festival had been promoted as a successor to the long-running Starscape Festival. After safety problems at last year's Starscape event, including overcrowding and drug overdoses, city officials said that event could not return to Fort Armistead Park.
Moonrise Festival's website and social media accounts announced the cancellation of the new event, planned for June 8 and 9 in Port Covington. According to the website, refunds can be obtained from Ticketfly or the outlet from which fans purchased tickets.
"It is with a heavy heart that we regret to announce the cancellation of this year's Moonrise Festival," states a message on the website. "Although we have put everything we had into this event trying to make it happen we have hit a roadblock that we just cannot overcome as the final permit needed will not be approved."
City Council Vice President Ed Reisinger said city officials were working with Moonrise Festival's organizer, Jerry Gottlieb of Charm City Hospitality. Reisinger had voiced concerns about problems at last year's Starscape Festival, which was held in his district.
But Reisinger said Gottlieb, who was not involved in the Starscape Festival, ran out of time to apply for all of the permits needed to hold a large concert by June.
"We welcome entertainment, but there's a process that you have to go through," Reisinger said. "If they want to do business in the city, they have to follow the process."
Gottlieb, who was an organizer of the first Baltimore Grand Prix, did not respond to a request for comment.
Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said city officials also were concerned about whether the venue was a good fit for the event.
Organizers had planned to hold the concert, headlined by the rapper-turned-reggae artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg, on Baltimore Sun Media Group property in Port Covington.
"Despite the problems at the previous Starscape events, city agencies worked diligently with event promoters to hold the event in a location that was conducive for the anticipated number of attendees," O'Doherty said in an email.
"A vibrant city is important to the mayor, but it must be balanced with events that follow proper permitting procedures that are located in places with resources that minimize risk, community impact, and increase safety for attendees."
A spokeswoman from the Baltimore Sun Media Group referred questions to the organizers of the event.
Moonrise Festival promoter Evan Weinstein of Steez Promo said last month the event was under new management and would undergo significant changes to make it safer, including ending each night at 11 p.m. instead of going all night. Weinstein also promoted last year's Starscape event.
News of the cancellation was met with a backlash on Facebook, where organizers also informed fans of the cancellation. More than 1,600 messages were posted.
Megan McGovern, a 23-year-old originally from Ellicott City, said she and her boyfriend were planning on traveling from Raleigh, N.C., for the event. McGovern said friends from around the country had purchased plane tickets and booked hotel rooms to attend Moonrise.
"They've put a lot of great events on over the years, so it's just disappointing," McGovern said. "Everyone is so upset about it. That's what you get when you mess with people's concerts. I think they felt betrayed."
Starscape ran into trouble last year when organizers allowed 14,000 people to attend a concert with a permit for 7,500. According to a report by the fire marshal, last year's "rave-like" atmosphere got out of control and there were an unspecified number of drug overdoses.
For its first 13 years at Fort Armistead Park, Starscape went off without a major incident, according to the Fire Department. But the event grew considerably last year. Emergency medical crews from the city and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties struggled to keep up with calls for help from the site, responding to the park "continuously" for 12 hours, the fire marshal's report said.
The Moonrise Festival was set to feature some of the same acts as Starscape. The first day of this summer's concert was to be headlined by the electronic music artist Pretty Lights, with the rapper Snoop Dogg, who has recently been performing reggae songs under the name Snoop Lion, performing the second day.
Snoop Dogg's agent, the William Morris Agency Inc., confirmed that the rapper had planned to perform at the event.
General admission tickets were being sold from $125 to $149 and "VIP tickets" ranged from $199 to $250.
According to the message on Moonrise Festival's website, organizers are "working on some alternative events in the area that will feature artists who were scheduled to perform."
Baltimore Sun reporter Wesley Case contributed to this article.
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