A Nashville man's plans for "the largest concert in the world ever" just north of Hermiston have run into difficulty.
Even though he's printed flyers promoting the Monsters of Maddness Metal Fest, Richard "Rick" Morrow must jump through some county planning and other hoops before he can conduct the massive multi-day music festival.
Morrow has contacted Stuart Bonney of Hermiston about renting his property just south of the Umatilla Sage Riders Arena in the Power City area. Bonney owns 61 acres there, which he rents as pasture. The property, 30 acres of which he describes as "wet" is for sale.
Bonney said Morrow planned to put on a concert "comparable to Woodstock" from Sept. 5-15. Those are the dates on the flyers Morrow distributed, too.
Morrow said Thursday the concert has been rescheduled Oct. 1-4, but Tamra Mabbott, county planning director, says it isn't happening at all without public hearings and county permits.
"I'm actually buying the property from him so we can do it every year," Morrow said Thursday.
Bonney said Morrow's plans included bringing "bands from all over," erecting a 50- by 100-foot tent, up to 10 stages, a large skateboard park and concessions, among other attractions.
Workers already have staked the property and are clearing brush on the east side of it.
Bonney, who's owned the property 12-13 years, thinks it's ideal for a huge concert.
"It's a good buffer zone," he said. "It's not in a residential zone."
He also owns property nearby that could be used for parking, he said.
Mabbott said the county must issue special permits for mass gatherings.
"Morrow came in and we gave him the forms," she said. "We haven't heard back from him."
Once Morrow turns in the paper work, the Planning Commission would schedule a public hearing on his request for a conditional-use permit.
"We don't have any openings on our agenda until November," Mabbott said.
Nevertheless, Morrow says he has scheduled 400 bands rotating every 90 minutes on eight stages during the four days. He claims the bands include "all the '80s bands," including "more than 60 tribute bands," hard rock bands, southern rock bands, "the best of death/gothic metal bands and '80s hair bands." The entertainers also include 165 bands from overseas, he said.
Tickets will be $55 per day, $185 for all four days, and $350 for VIP seating and mingling with the entertainers.
A small percentage of the ticket sales would be donated to a local charity, he added.
Morrow said it's all coming together for Oct. 1-4.
"They told me it would be through by the 20th," he said. "I've already moved this thing twice. I can't cancel these bands another month."
Mabbott disputed that.
"Nobody in this office told him he'd have everything by Sept. 20," she said.
Morrow said he expects the concert to cost $1 million to produce. In addition to securing bands, he says he has a staff of 100 security officers. He'll also rent 60-80 portable toilets, plus portable showers and security fencing, partially to keep minors out of the beer garden.
Morrow said he plans things for youngsters, too, including jumping gyms, a skateboard park and "a lot of vendors."
"I try to do things that fit everyone," he said.
Parking will be available on Bonney's property west of U.S. Highway 395.
"I'm going to bring shuttle buses to transport everyone over," Morrow said. "We'll do everything that needs to be done."
He stressed no weapons, or drugs would be allowed on the property.
"We keep track of everybody," he said, adding that he plans to make arrangements with local emergency medical technicians and the fire department.
Morrow said he moved the concert to Hermiston upon the advice of some of his workers who live in Pendleton. He said he tried to schedule the concert at The Gorge at George, Wash., but officials there "wanted too much take."
Mabbott remains skeptical.
"I'm sure it's not a go," she said. "The sheriff's office has concerns. (Morrow) hasn't applied for anything, so that's why he hasn't heard from anybody."
Sheriff John Trumbo said Friday he has some huge concerns about the proposed concert.
"Nobody's ever approached us about whether this is a viable idea," he said. "I can assure them there is no way in the world we have the staffing to handle an event like that."
Trumbo said a four-day music festival would take a large security presence.
"That would be like trying to supervise the Round-Up, he said, which costs $50,000 annually because it involves law enforcement officers from neighboring counties.
Although Morrow says he has 100 security guards of his own, Trumbo said Morrow's security guards must be certified in Oregon, and even then they wouldn't be able to make arrests.
"We don't have enough people to handle it," the sheriff said. "If he was to come to me right now, I'd say there was no way."