Owens wants meeting on rave

Executive seeks talk with group that leased fairgrounds for event

April 18, 2001|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

County Executive Janet S. Owens plans to meet with the nonprofit group that operates the county fairgrounds in Crownsville to discuss how to avoid a repeat of a Saturday music and dance event that police described as a "rave," which led to 47 arrests - mostly on drug charges.

"We clearly need avenues for young people to come together for music, for fun," Owens said yesterday. "But I don't want anything that encourages drugs coming into our county."

No date has been set for the meeting.

Officials of Anne Arundel County Fair Inc., the group that manages the fairgrounds, said they had not expected problems from the event, which was billed as the First Annual East Coast Electronic Music Festival by its Virginia-based promoter, Vinyl Lab Productions.

But police investigators described the event as a typical rave, a marathon of pounding electronic music and sensory overload orchestrated by disc jockeys for youths, where drug use is often prevalent.

Police reported seizing about $16,250 worth of "party" drugs at the event, including 499 ecstasy pills, 51 grams of marijuana, 22 hits of LSD, 24.6 grams of liquid LSD and nearly 44 grams of ketamine, a horse tranquilizer.

"We rented to them in good faith," said Diana Wilson, president of the fair organization.

"What happened was not what was planned," she said.

The county fair rental committee, which approved the event, will look for ways to more thoroughly evaluate events and the type of crowds they attract.

However, a recommendation for evaluating future events probably won't come until the next board meeting on May 1, Wilson said.

About 100 county and state police officers - including undercover detectives - were assigned to the 12-hour event, which was promoted from New York City to Richmond, Va., as well as on the Internet.

The event attracted an estimated 3,000 young people - mostly teen-agers, many of whom came by the busload from out of state to hear the techno sounds of groups such as the East Coast Boogie Men.

Despite the many arrests, there were no reported incidents of violence, Wilson and the authorities noted.

Staff writer Scott Calvert contributed to this article.

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