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Livestock seeks return to Zephyrhills

The festival was at Ford Amphitheatre one day last year, but this year it might return full force to Zephyrhills.

Published January 6, 2006

[Times photo: Lance Aram Rothstein]
Kent McGee of Williston stands near a huge bonfire in the campground during Livestock in 2004. Arrests and complaints of noise often came along with the festival for the 15 years it was in Zephyrhills.

ZEPHYRHILLS - When Livestock promoter Mike Sierra canceled the weekendlong music festival known for loud music and hard-partying crowds last year, he promised it would someday return.

It appears he has delivered.

Sierra filed an application with Pasco County to stage the show April 28-30 at Zephyrhills Festival Park.

The application must undergo review by various agencies.

"We'll just see, if they are permitted, how the concert goes," said Dr. Marc Yacht, director of the county Health Department.

The multiband festival ran for 15 years at the Zephyrhills park - always with raucous crowds and complaints. Neighbors cited excessive noise, while the Sheriff's Office arrested dozens of people year after year on such charges as drunken driving, disorderly conduct and drug possession.

The tension amped up in recent years.

County Commissioners approved an ordinance in 2004 regulating outdoor festivals, requiring at least one shower for every 1,500 overnight campers. By the Livestock standard crowd of about 15,000, that meant providing 10 showers. The measure also requires organizers to provide free drinking water, obtain insurance and ensure food vendors have the necessary permits.

Sierra assailed the ordinance in a five-page letter to commissioners.

And last year, he canceled the show.

Sierra publicly chastised the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for what he called its "storm trooper tactics."

"It's intimidating the hell out of our clientele, and I simply don't want to do business that way," Sierra told the Times last year.

A one-day reincarnation of the concert was staged in April at the Ford Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, a venue with volume troubles of its own.

Now the festival appears to be returning to Pasco County.

Sierra did not return a telephone call Thursday. He filed the nine-page application Dec. 12 and paid the $500 application fee, according to Pasco County records. It outlines the specifics of how the event will comply with county rules, including the showers, EMT services, security, insurance, lighting and garbage collection. The application estimates an attendance of 14,000.

Yacht, who supported the 2004 ordinance, said he wants to see health standards addressed before the first band takes the stage.

"Once the concert starts, it's very hard to provide oversight," he said.

[Last modified January 6, 2006, 01:04:19]

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