Elkfest music festival hits roadblock with City of Spokane


SPOKANE, Wash. -Elkfest organizers are appealing a special permit for this year's concerts. Elkfest is an annual music festival held in Browne's Addition. This year marks the 14th year of the festival.

Elkfest director, Marshall Powell, says the city of Spokane is making them hire five Spokane police officers for their event this year. They don't have a problem with police being there, but they do have a problem paying for them, that's why they are appealing it.

Powell says it would cost them $4,500. "The city and the police tell me that they have a significant amount of complaints that leads them to believe there needs to be police officers there," said Powell.

Powell says they are being required to hire five officers to be at the event from 5 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. "This is 15 percent of our budget. It's just another roadblock that the city has put up to stop Elkfest, is how we feel," said Powell.

Powell says he's seen officers swing by in the past. "They haven't spent a lot of time there but I've seen them there every year for at least the past five years, at least once," he said.

A city spokesman says over the years, Elkfest has grown and they've had to evaluate like they do with other events.

"City officers have responded to complaints there at the event in years past. In 2014 for example, there was an auto pedestrian collision, a hit and run collision, a couple of fights, disorderly people. There were some people so intoxicated, they were having trouble standing up, other people vomiting. 2015 there were noise complaints. 2016, complaints of noise and drunk people, vomiting and defecating in people's bushes," said Brian Coddington with the city of Spokane. Coddington says the city would like to have officers on site, rather than being sent to respond.

Powell says the show will go on. Elkfest is still happening this year on June 8th, 9th and 10th.

Powell says their appeal has been sent to a hearing examiner but they are still working out a date to meet. The city says other big events like Hoopfest and the Perry Street Fair are also required to hire officers.

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