‘Bobby’ fest poses snags, agencies say

Coupled with Country Jam over the same days, Bobby’s Birthday Bash may overburden Mesa County’s public-safety resources and will require the renegotiation of a county contract to cover the two events, representatives from affected entities wrote to the Mesa County Planning Department.

“The (Mesa County) Sheriff’s Department essentially uses the maximum resources available in the agency on that weekend to continue regular policing coverage to the rest of the county as on any other day, in addition to the Country Jam event,” Sheriff Stan Hilkey wrote in formal comments to county planners.

“Bobby’s Birthday Bash cannot be planned as another independent event,” Hilkey wrote, later adding, “The approval of this event will change nearly everything about that contract (with Country Jam) as MCSO will have to re-deploy the resources dedicated to Country Jam to an umbrella of services for both events.”

Bobby’s Birthday Bash is planned June 23-25 on 82 acres near Loma, on the north side of Interstate 70. The event coincides with Country Jam in Mack.

With just over three months before the would-be start dates of the events, Hilkey questioned the viability of doing a new deal and modifying an existing one.

Country Jam and Bobby’s Birthday Bash are embroiled in a federal lawsuit over allegations that Bobby Willis, the man behind Bobby’s Birthday Bash, is using Country Jam’s proprietary secrets after a failed bid to buy Country Jam last fall. Willis has denied wrongdoing.

Hilkey wrote he is opposed to asking for mutual aid resources from other agencies to cover the two festivals. Outside officers brought in to supplement Sheriff’s Department staff should be paid for by organizers, and those officers would have to work under the sheriff’s authority, he said.

“It would be unreasonable for one event to finance law enforcement for the other,” the sheriff wrote. “If a model can be developed that the cost of the resources are shared between the two, there may be inequities depending on which site results in the most services delivered.”

Bobby’s Birthday Bash will be the subject of a public meeting, organized by Willis and his representatives, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Loma Elementary School.

The event’s application for a conditional-use permit is scheduled for a public hearing April 14 before the Mesa County Planning Commission, and April 26 before the County Commission.

Of the 28 artists listed on the website for Bobby’s Birthday Bash who are scheduled to perform in Loma on June 23–25, a review of each artist’s website Tuesday showed 16 of them listing plans to perform at the event.


Hilkey’s analysis also questions vague language in the Bash’s application, such as a pledge to have “adequate” private security but offering no further explanation. The sheriff quotes a section of the application promising, “at least one Mesa County Sheriff will be on-site” during the festival at all times.

“Based on previous communication with the applicant, this statement is puzzling,” Hilkey wrote, noting approval of Willis’ festival will mean preparing for possible large-scale disturbances at two locations within miles of each other.

“This would mean much more than one Deputy Sheriff,” Hilkey wrote.

Andrew Martsolf, Mesa County’s emergency manager, cited the potential for increased ambulance and fire service calls in the valley’s west end, drawing in agencies from across the county to carry the load.

“The applicant’s proposed event, if approved, will tax public safety resources across the county at a time when resources are already stretched due to a co-existing special event that draws in excess of 100,000 people over a three-day period,” Martsolf wrote.

Ed Clark, the commander for the Colorado State Patrol’s Fruita troop, said existing plans call for one vehicle-access point to the festival grounds from Colorado Highway 139. Clark suggests a second location is needed.

Clark also highlighted the plans for a Jumbotron positioned roughly 900 feet from Interstate 70.

“This could potentially cause distractions to drivers along I-70,” Clark wrote.


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