A decorative art piece is seen at Vortex Spring during Sol Fest. Holmes County officials are looking to officially regulate proposed future large-scale events following the electronic dance music festival. [COLLIN BREAUX | The Advertiser]


Following Sol Fest, officials in Holmes County are looking to have an ordinance on the books that will regulate potential large-scale events.

County Attorney Nate Nolin has been drafting the ordinance following the electronic dance music festival at Vortex Spring held in early May and presented draft details to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) during a meeting Tuesday, May 21.

“They have to post a cash clean-up bond. I don’t know if there’s still trash out there or how we clean that up along the right-of-ways but I’m sure it was very labor-intensive,” Nolin said. “We’re going to define how much bond needs to be posted.”

The County will have the authority to issue a permit to event organizers provided they meet required criteria, Nolin said.

“We can withhold that permit if we don’t meet a certain checklist,” Nolin said. 

Events will also be required to have proper sanitation facilities, sewage disposal and will be further regulated when it comes to camp construction, stage construction, a geographic description as far as a map, and adequate plan for medical services, among other plans. 

“We’ve got to publish notice for two weeks before it’s formally adopted,” Nolin said. “Like I said, it’s probably looking like July before we really have something in place.”

Any potential future large-scale event proposed in Holmes County will also have to have a “minimum ambulatory requirement per 1,000 (people) or whatever number (County EMS Director Steve Connell) feels is adequate,” Nolin said.

“Proper internal security” and “traffic control” will also be required with event proposals.

Sol Fest was criticized by local officials after the event concluded due to a perceived lack of proper planning and organization, as well as facilitating unsafe conditions and an increase in traffic in Ponce de Leon. Around 10,000 people were estimated to have attended the multi-day event, which resulted in numerous arrests for alleged drug possession.

“One thing I think would be prudent is whoever the event holder would be is an adequate disclosure of financial backing,” Nolin said. “Who are we dealing with? Is your entity we’re dealing with authorized to do business in our state? Who are the owners of this? Essentially, do they have enough wherewithal to put on an event like this?”

Liability and property insurance coverage will also be required, as will names of material and service vendors and an exact date and time for the event’s start and end.

“An attendance report,” Nolin further said of what the ordinance will specify. “I know, a lot of times, they don’t know much. They’ve got a good range. Just how many are we expecting? Historically, how many tickets have been sold?”

County Commissioner Clint Erickson, who–along with other County officials–has spoken out against Sol Fest, asked what’s the “teeth” of the ordinance–meaning how will it be enforced and what will be the consequences for non-compliance.

“At that point, they’ll be breaking the law and the sheriff will be involved then,” Nolin said if an event organizer runs an event without a permit. 

Erickson said he didn’t know if the sheriff could stop an event on private property in that case.

“If we withhold the permit, that will be between us and the landowner,” Nolin said. “We could get an injunction through the court system and that would give more teeth.”

Some events will be exempt from the ordinance and regulatory process, such as religious, historical, and County events. 

“Everybody knows we got the rodeo,” County Administrator David Corbin said. “That’s historically in the City (of Bonifay) limits, so that’s untouchable.”

Nolin said the ordinance is bigger than Sol Fest.

“As the county grows, we want to make sure it’s a good law and addresses any event that’s coming,” Nolin said. “At the end of the day, enforcement is going to be a hurdle.”

Sheriff John Tate said there is a federal law called the Rave Act, enacted in 2003, that covers EDM events like Sol Fest.

“It’s a federal law,” Tate said. “It has to be prosecuted federally.”

Corbin said things are headed in the “right direction” with the coming ordinance. 

“We want to be fair and also protect private landowners’ rights,” Nolin said. “At the end of the day, when an event harms or bleeds over to other private property owners’ rights, that’s where we get involved as a County.”

Nolin said he will have something for the BOCC to “tangibly review.” County officials will also come up with a dollar amount for the permit.

Nolin said he has drawn from what neighboring counties have for similar ordinances when drafting the one for Holmes County.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” BOCC Chairman Jeff Good said. 

A committee has also been formed to review proposed special events. Among the committee members are Tate, Connell, Travis Cook with Bonifay Fire-Rescue, and two public members at large. 

The ordinance will be further discussed during a subsequent meeting Tuesday, May 29, at 2 p.m. 

Leave a Reply

Advertising Options

Reach your target audience with our newspaper advertising options. Our publication has a wide readership, making it the perfect platform to promote your business or event.

To inquire about advertising rates and options, please fill out the form below and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

Take advantage of our high readership and targeted demographics to promote your business to the right people. From print ads to online banners, we have a variety of options to suit your needs and budget.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach your target audience. Contact us today to learn more about our advertising options.

E-Mailing List Subscription

Stay informed with our email mailing list! Sign up today and never miss a beat on the latest news and events in your community.

To join our e-mailing list, simply fill out the form below. We’ll send you a weekly digest of the top stories, delivered right to your inbox.

By signing up, you’ll be the first to know about breaking news, upcoming events, and special promotions. Plus, you’ll be eligible for exclusive subscriber-only content and offers.