WILLIAMSTOWN -- The organizer of a controversial motorcycle rally has dropped its support of its own event.
The Snowford Foundation, which has been organizing "Destination 2012: Hogs on the Farm," formally withdrew its support for the three-day event in a July 6 letter to Town Manager Peter Fohlin. The letter was signed by Charles "Rusty" Ransford, president of the nonprofit and trustee of the property on Hopper Road on which the rally would have been held.
However, in a second letter to Fohlin, also dated July 6, Ransford wrote that since the event had already been advertised in flyers, periodicals and other media, there will "undoubtedly be individuals who are not aware that the status of the event has changed."
"Accordingly," Ransford said, "anyone who does arrive pursuant to the advertising will be invited to remain for the weekend, if they wish, as my guest at no cost."
In a telephone interview Monday evening, he said the event hasn't been canceled, just that the support has been withdrawn.
"What I'll end up doing is because the event has been advertised, and people will be coming here from a long ways away, they'll be invited guests, and there will be no charge. If they want to make a donation, they may," he said.
At the Selectmen's meeting Monday night, Town Manager Peter Fohlin said that he had met with Ransford earlier in the day, and Ransford had told him that he had canceled arrangements with six
The rally, which was scheduled for Aug. 17-19, has been advertised as a benefit for military veterans.
The Snowford Foundation's decision to withdraw its support of "Hogs on the Farm," but not completely cancel the event, had the Selectmen and some residents greatly concerned at the board's meeting Monday night.
In previous meetings about the event, the Selectmen have raised questions about how many people could potentially attend, noise that could be generated in the residential area, health and sanitation on the property, and public safety. Many residents who live on Hopper Road, which is a narrow paved and dirt road, and elsewhere in town have also expressed these concerns.
"I feel that in some way we have lost any jurisdiction we had over the event from it being canceled, and we have less cards to play with if the event does take place," David Rempell, chairman of the Selectmen, said.
Selectman Tom Costley said that before the board makes its next move on the matter, it should get an answer from town counsel if Ransford would still need a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for camping on the property, which had been advertised as part of "Hogs on the Farm."
"If the event is canceled and people show up, would they be allowed to camp without there being a permit?" he asked.
If the answer is yes, the next question would be how could the town enforce that, he said.
Selectman Ronald Turbin said another question that should be asked is if the event would be considered a commercial venture since people who do attend would be asked to give a donation.