PITTSFIELD -- A Pittsfield man was among more than two dozen people arrested on drug-related charges during a three-day music festival held over the weekend in Claverack, N.Y.
Through a patrol coordinated by New York State Police troopers, the Columbia County (N.Y.) district attorney's and sheriff's offices, undercover troopers made 27 drug-related arrests during the Big Up Festival held at Hemlock Hollow Farm, located about 40 miles southwest of Pittsfield. The sweep netted LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine, marijuana, hashish, Adderall, Ketamine and ecstasy.
Those arrested range in age from 17 to 53, with most hailing from New York and Massachusetts, but also from California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maine.
One Berkshire County resident was arrested. Aaron J. Nelson, 22, of Pittsfield, faces felony charges of third-degree criminal sale of a Class B controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal possession of a Class C controlled substance. Nelson has since been arraigned in Claverack Town Court and is being held in the Columbia County Jail on $10,000 bail.
"In the past, we have had drug-related issues associated with this festival," New York State Police Major Michael Kopy said in a prepared statement.
"This year, we were determined to take steps to reduce the amount of illicit narcotics entering Columbia County and to make the festival as safe as possible. Working with our law enforcement partners and the festival organizers, we accomplished this task in a number of ways," Kopy said.
The sweep involved undercover police who patrolled the grounds during the Big Up music and arts festival. Authorities also attributed a decline in the number of medical service calls -- just one this year -- compared to previous festivals.
One of the festival's producers and co-founders is from Berkshire County. Jules Jenssen of Great Barrington told The Eagle earlier this month that he expected 3,000 people to attend the festival.
Jenssen told The Eagle on Tuesday afternoon that he and his fellow organizers are reviewing the reports and preparing to comment on the festival on Wednesday.
The Big Up's website states the festival doesn't permit "illegal substances or activities." The festival has restrictions on alcohol and a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking, according to the website.
In July, New York State Police troopers also made at least 10 drug-related arrests at another popular music festival, Camp Bisco, held in Mariaville Lake, N.Y., located about 30 miles northwest of Albany. The Albany Times Union reported that at least 50 patients were transported to area hospitals from Camp Bisco, many of whom were admitted due to drug overdoses.
This weekend, another music festival, Bella Terra, will be staged in Stephentown, N.Y. Bella Terra was founded five years ago by Jeffrey Schneider of Pittsfield.
Schneider couldn't be reached on Tuesday to comment on whether the incidents from Camp Bisco and Big Up will prompt more vigilance at this year's Bella Terra festival.
A spokesperson from the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office said the department has no plans to conduct any special patrols of the Bella Terra festival grounds.
Eagle reporter Andrew Amelinckx contributed to this report. Materials from the Associated Press were also used in this article.
Illegal drugs seized at the Big Up festival:
2,167 dosage units of LSD
247 MDMA (ecstasy) pills
358 grams of marijuana
180 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms
16 grams of powdered MDMA
15 grams of cocaine
4 grams of hashish
Undisclosed amount of Adderall
Undisclosed amount of Ketamine
Source: New York State Police