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Denver's Riot Fest in jeopardy after Arapahoe County denies permit

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For the paying punk rock patrons looking to rage at this year’s Riot Fest in Byers, Colo., there may be one small problem: Byers, Colo. doesn’t want to host the show.

On Friday, Arapahoe County announced that they would not issue a temporary-use permit for the festival. The ruling comes after a hearing on July 1, in which community members could voice their opinions on the festival. The denial was made due to traffic and public safety concerns. The festival’s organizers now have 10 days to file an appeal.

“Due to the amount of traffic congestion from Riot Fest, emergency service providers would not be able to serve the residents of Byers, the surrounding areas, or the attendees of Riot Fest on a timely basis,” according to a statement by the county. “In addition, the congestion and configuration of the event parking/camping would result in pedestrian/vehicle conflicts along Bradbury Road and I-70. In the case of a disaster at Riot Fest, the ability to evacuate the site quickly would be impaired by the limited access and the existing roadway infrastructure and network.”

The festival was scheduled to take place Sept. 19-21 at May Farms. It would have been the second year at the location for the festival, with dates also scheduled in both Chicago and Toronto; but the city’s 1,000 residents appear to be opposed to the idea.

Festival organizer Max Wagner was optimistic a deal with the county could get done, but it appears they may have a plan B.

“We’re confident that we’re going to get to a place where the commissioners, the local community leaders are happy,” Wagner said last month. “We always have contingency plans, but we don’t feel as though that will be necessary.”

If an appeal is either not filed, is unsuccessful or a deal cannot otherwise be reached, it is unclear what will be done about the fans that already purchased tickets. It is possible another venue could be found in the state (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City used to host similarly-sized festivals), but Las Vegas may be an alternative they will consider. The festival was expected to draw around 17,000 people.

The lineup for the show was set to include: Weezer, The Flaming Lips, The Cure, Rise Against, Social Distortion, Dropkick Murphys, Wu-Tang Clan and many others.

You can read the full letter of denial here.

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