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Promoters may face tighter rules after music festival cancellations at Huntington State Beach

Rock star Sammy Hagar's High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, which had been scheduled for this weekend at Huntington State Beach, was canceled after it was denied a state permit, organizers said.
(File Photo)

After two recent last-minute music festival cancellations at Huntington State Beach, state officials may consider tightening rules for promoters to ensure such gatherings run smoothly in the future.

State Parks Supt. Kevin Pearsall said promoters may be required to show that they have all their necessary permits on a set timeline with specific deadlines instead of requiring them to submit all the documents at least 14 days before an event. State parks officials will take up the issue in the fall as they gear up for next year, he added.

“We’re learning ... not everybody is as ready for an event on the sand in a park that requires as much as we do,” Pearsall said, adding that several permits are required to build large stages, ensure safety and sell food and alcohol. “We’re trying to put those guidelines in place earlier on now because of these last experiences this year.”

The potential changes come after the cancellations of rock star Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show this month and the Like Totally Festival in May.

State parks officials pulled the plug on Hagar’s festival Sept. 20, about a week before it was scheduled to feature performances this weekend from veteran rock and pop acts at Huntington State Beach.

Pearsall said the festival’s production company, Freeze Management, didn’t pay necessary fees despite “excuse after excuse” from the company about the invoice.

On May 10, state parks officials canceled the annual Like Totally Festival a day before it was to take to the beach with a roster of ‘80s music stars. Event organizers didn’t provide documents that the stage was approved by the state fire marshal, and with that in mind, “it would be wrong of us, and unprofessional and unsafe,” to have moved forward with the festival, Pearsall said.

“I do see this as an outdoor recreation and I think it’s a healthy element to Southern California and California State Parks as long as it’s done correctly,” he said. “We’ve done 40 events in the last eight years on Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach. We’ve only had two miserably fail and coincidentally happen in the same year.”

A message posted on the High Tide Beach Party website said organizers were denied a permit from the California Department of Parks and Recreation and that they could not relocate the event. The message also said ticket holders would receive a refund through the festival’s official ticketing outlets.

Freeze Management did not respond to the Daily Pilot’s requests for comment this week but told the Orange County Register that it couldn’t “comment on pending litigation, but there are two sides to every story.” It was unclear Friday whether legal action was being taken.

Scott Tucker, promoter of the Like Totally Festival, said his third-party stage builder didn’t supply the fire marshal with proper engineering documentation in a “timely manner.” That pushed back the festival’s setup too far, and “we could not make the production work,” he said.

Synergy Global Entertainment, a concert promotion company that successfully presented festivals such as Surf City Blitz and Back to the Beach at Huntington State Beach, filed for bankruptcy in August after big losses in the festival market. The company canceled the On the Water festival scheduled for Oct. 12-13 at Huntington State Beach before tickets went on sale.

Synergy did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

According to Pearsall, the three events that were canceled were among eight music festivals awarded permission to organize this year at Huntington and Bolsa Chica state beaches.

“We’ve had more success than not success,” Pearsall said. “We thought we were pretty vocal and communicative with [promoters], but we’re gonna try and do more of that in the beginning of communication for those events when they come to us.”

The revamped approach will be, “‘If you’re going to do it, this is what you must do and get it done on this date,’” he said.

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