The second Independence Incident has come and gone. It remains to be seen if there will be a third.
Clearly the concert was a hit with music fans. The legendary James Brown and Earl Scruggs lit up the stage and the String Cheese Incident did what it does best jammed well into the evening for two straight nights.
More than 11,000 tickets were sold for the two-day concert. Judging from the number of people in tie-dyed T-shirts in downtown stores and restaurants, String Cheese fans appeared to be good for local businesses.
Clearly, most of the concertgoers behaved well, and for the most part, the two-day concert came off without a hitch.
Some concerns were raised about the behavior of concertgoers in local grocery stores and the noise level within the vicinity of the event. Most concerning, however, was the number of arrests made.
Police reported 56 arrests were made during the two days of the concert. Of those, 45 were for drugs and 25 were made in the campground adjacent to the concert area. And there would have been more arrests had police not chosen to ignore marijuana possession and use at the concert.
"The drug situation was out of control," said Dwight Murphy, commander of the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Task Force, which made most of the arrests. "It was really prevalent."
Sheriff John Warner said the concert arrests put an undue burden on the local courts system, noting none of those arrested is from Routt County.
Unfortunately, the concert's promoters and organizers responded to the concerns by indicating they would consider moving the event to another town.
We don't think that should happen.
For the most part, the concert has had a successful two-year run in Steamboat. It provides an added economic boost over the July 4 holiday. And Warner's complaint that the drug arrests put a financial strain on taxpayers seems a stretch. Surely prosecutors can handle 45 drug cases and the resulting fines and fees.
It seems na to think a two-day music festival like the Independence Incident can be held without some drug arrests. At the same time, the community should not be asked to tacitly condone such behavior.
The Independence Incident concert can and should continue in Steamboat. But for that to happen, concert organizers must be willing to work with local law enforcement on reducing the level of drug use and distribution at the event.