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Outdoor gathering

Saluda hears from residents about a planned 350-person May festival

SALUDA—The Saluda Board of Commissioners discussed during its February meeting a permit to allow a music festival on May 15 and heard from several residents. 

The Saluda Board of Commissioners have received a request for a permit from Saluda Outfitters to host an outdoor music festival on May 15 that could bring up to 350 people. 

The permit request was originally for May 9 but was changed to May 15. 

Owner Ryan Griffin said the festival is a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Humane Society and that Henderson County has agreed to handle traffic, that parking would be remote and there would be a shuttle. Griffin is asking the city to close the bottom of Shand Street for the festival. 

The board heard several comments regarding the potential 350 people attending the festival. 

James Hrynyshyn said he recommends the approval be contingent on the state’s limits on outdoor gatherings on the date of the event. 

“The current limit is 50, and so any approval should be an amendment to the maximum number of attendees to the effect of ‘350 or whatever the current COVID-19 limitations are for outdoor gatherings, whichever is less,’” Hrynnyshyn said. 

William and Theresa Wagoner said current North Carolina law caps outdoor gatherings to 50. 

“A permit allowing more does not make sense nor is it safe,” the Wagoners said. “Have the business reapply if the cap changes.” 

Martin Anderson said he heard a city business has applied for a special permit to hold a music festival on May 9 for up to 350 people. 

“Please do not allow any events in Saluda that violate the state’s recommendation (and/or law) of 50 per gathering,” Anderson said. 

Griffin told the board he has volunteers from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office to manage traffic and a professional sound person who has donated their time. He said it will be a daytime event and music will be done by 9:30 p.m. He said he is trying to be as courteous as possible, that all the bands are playing for free and he is personally donating $500 to the humane society because their pot of gold is running low. He also said he is setting up multiple stages with 8 different groups. 

The board decided to approve the application with the understanding that the city will come back within 30 days of the event depending on the state’s latest regulations on outdoor gatherings. The board will discuss the festival and the permit again during its April 12 meeting.