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Harrisburg wants Willamette Country Music Festival; Linn County undecided on permit

Courtesy Willamette Country Music Festival.

HARRISBURG, Ore. - In spring and early summer, this field is full of rye grass grown by Linn County farmer John Langdon.

But he's also a big country music fan - and hopes his property could be the new home of the Willamette Country Music Festival.

"A lot of this area will be used for parking, probably the day traffic that comes in and out," he said of the rye grass field. "Back there where that equipment is working, they're actually making preparations to make the stage area and where the crowd will be smoother."

Festival directors have a revised mass gathering permit in front of Linn County officials.

They want to move the festival from Brownsville to this 1,000 acre property.

But Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist says the application is deficient, both on traffic control and public security.

"Both of those are challenging, especially with the lack of infrastructure in the way of getting on and off the freeway in that area," he said.

At the city level, the plan has the support of politicians.

The Harrisburg City Council voted 4 to 2 this week to support the festival's move.

"I know that the organizers have said they would supply all the security needed and that Linn County Sheriff wouldn't need to be involved," Mayor Robert Duncan said.

"There are no costs to the city," said Brian Latta, the Harrisburg city administrator. "The city was simply asked whether or not they could provide a resolution from the council.

Langdon thinks the impacts will be positive.

"It benefits thousands and thousands of people in the Northwest and thousands of people in our communities, including the schools," he said.

He contends that his field will provide easier access for traffic than the Brownsville site.

Nyquist maintains the application needs a lot of work.

"When you're putting 25,000 people in a field with no public infrastructure and hundreds of kegs of beer, that's got to be done in a way that to the extent possible ensures the health, safety and welfare of the public," he said.

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