Neighbors nervous about Bobby’s Bash

Promoter Bobby Willis answers questions Thursday night at Loma Elementary School, where he talked about his plans for a three-day concert near the community at the same time as the annual Country Jam music festival.

Loma Resident Bill McMinn, left,  expresses his opposition to the event as Bobby Willis, Broncos hat,  listens.

Bobby Willis listens to his traffic engineer’s presentation at Loma Elementary.

Bobby Willis at the Loma meeting Thursday.

LOMA—His staff members fielded most of the technical questions Thursday night, but the man behind a proposed country music festival that will coincide with Country Jam personally addressed a sometimes hostile crowd about his plans.

Bobby Willis, who has proposed Bobby’s Birthday Bash, an event expected to draw thousands of people to Loma during the same summer weekend as Country Jam, several times answered the same question from irate neighbors: Why not change the date of the event?

“I told people these are the dates. Once you do that, you can’t change,” he said.

Willis plans to present the event on 82 acres several miles down Interstate 70 from the site of Country Jam in Mack. And he plans to hold it during the same weekend, June 23-25, causing critics to complain that the move is in retaliation over his failed attempt to purchase the 20-year-old Country Jam.

Willis said Thursday his event will be different from Country Jam and feature classical country music stars. Having it coincide with Country Jam is a benefit to both venues, he said.

Mesa County planners are working with Willis to develop a conditional-use permit. That document will go before the planning commissioners April 14, at which time commissioners should issue a recommendation. Mesa County commissioners have the final say April 26.

Some residents of the Loma area quizzed Willis on Thursday night about how they would access their homes during the event. They demanded to know what precautions were under way to keep people from drinking and driving.

Willis said those residents would be mailed letters for special access to travel freely.

Willis said the crowd will come to see acts such as the Bellamy Brothers, T.G. Sheppard and Bobby Bare, and those fans are usually families or older folks and not necessarily the partying types.

Foremost Response has been contracted to provide security for the event, he said.

Willis also said he wants to continue the event after this summer and set up four other venues around the Grand Valley for future musical events.

Loma resident Paula Rohr first learned of the proposed logistics of the event Thursday night. The emergency-access route would be the road she travels every day, and during the event the view from her home would consist of 250 portable toilets, she said.

“Wow, this really changes things,” Rohr said. “I think they’re doing things behind our back.”

“It’s so hard because we don’t want to get in the middle of their fight,” she said of the two music events.

Joe Coleman, a Country Jam attorney, challenged Willis,  mentioning Country Jam has given more than $100,000 to local nonprofit organizations.

To that, Willis replied, “I’ll match anything you want. I’ll write a check for it right now.”


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