Beatfreaks speak about court, drugs and bringing event back
THE director of a controversial festival held near Warwick last weekend has praised police for seizing drugs and spoken about his plans to bring the event back to town.
Bohemian Beatfreaks, organised by Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd, was moved to Cherrabah Resort at the last minute after a court battle with New South Wales Police, who pulled their support for the event due to safety concerns.
Event director Erik Lamir-Pike said court proceedings were started because the team was confident they could run a safe event.
Last week Justice Jim Moore ruled the event could be held at Kippenduff, west of Casino.
But Mr Lamir-Pike said the ruling had "heavy and ludicrous strings attached”, which he claimed opposed the nature of the event.
He said these included a $105,000 user-paid police service, installing a chain-link fence around the event and tabletop searches and pat downs between the stages and campsite.
"There's no statistics of our events to prove that (it's unsafe) and that was proven in the court case, the judge ruled that it was a safe event,” he said.
Mr Lamir-Pike said instantaneous support from Southern Downs Regional Council and emergency services made the decision to move venues easy.
The event was held from Friday to Sunday with an estimated 2600 people in attendance, more than 100 music acts and 80 performers.
But it was not without its troubles, with police reporting they seized about 430 tabs of LSD and ecstasy on the road into Cherrabah Resort.
Preliminary police reports indicate 52 people were charged with drug driving, 34 with possessing dangerous drugs, 18 with possessing drug utensils, three with drug supply and 118 traffic infringement notices were issued.
Mr Lamir-Pike praised police for their assistance at the event, saying the festival did not condone drug taking because it had the potential to cause problems.
"We support the efforts of the police conducting searches on the way into the event,” he said.
"We support that zero tolerance on the way in, but we take a harm minimisation approach inside the event.
"We don't want anyone to be scared to come to us if they or their friends are feeling unwell.
"Drugs are everywhere in society so you just have to put the measures in place to try and cater for issues.”
Mr Lamir-Pike said the event had a fully-staffed medical facility as well as paramedics and nurses on site 24 hours a day.
The 25 security guards were also first aid trained and a drug and alcohol testing facility on site for people to access before they drove.
While Mr Lamir-Pike said two people transported themselves to hospital with physical injuries, there were no call outs to ambulance, police or firefighters for the entirety of the festival.
Mr Lamir-Pike said he planned to bring the festival back to Warwick each year, praising the positive benefit it could have on society, economically and socially.
"I see the positive change it has in people. People are doing the 9-5 grind and getting a bit over life, it becomes a circle and rat race,” he said.
"Everyone drops their guard down and they leave the events feeling revived and rejuvenated with new friends.”
Warwick police officer-in-charge Jamie Deacon said the approval of future festivals would be decided on a case-by-case basis, like any other event.