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Policing Problems Postpone Livestock Festival

TAMPA, FL (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Promoters of Tampa’s Livestock Festival have put the two-day event on hiatus because of a dispute with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office over policing tactics.

Mike Sierra, co-promoter of the festival with Clear Channel-owned radio station WXTB, told the Tampa Tribune, that he and others associated with the festival have accused sheriff’s Captain Rick Neal of using heavy-handed and intimidating policing tactics to harass concertgoers and of trying to force the event from Pasco County. Rather than subject his patrons to what he referred to as “storm trooper” tactics, Sierra postponed the event.

Bands scheduled to perform at Livestock at Festival Park will instead play a one-day show, called BFD, at Tampa’s Ford Amphitheatre on April 30. Unlike Livestock, there will be no overnight camping allowed.

The festival, which has been held 14 of the past 16 years, draws at least 15,000 people. It has gained a reputation as a wild two-day outdoor party. Last year, deputies made more than 80 arrests, including charges for cocaine possession, drunken driving and disorderly conduct. In 2001, a concertgoer died of a drug overdose.

Sierra claims that Neal “has decided he’s going to be the moral judge for the county.” He said he has never had problems with security until Neal began coordinating the enforcement a few years ago.

Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll denied that deputies unfairly target the festival. Many of the deputies working at the site are off-duty and hired by Sierra for added security.

The concert, now being held at the Ford Amphitheatre, will include rock bands 3 Doors Down, Papa Roach, Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin, The Exies, No Address and Dark New Day.

The Clear Channel-run Ford Amphitheatre, which is involved in its own controversy regarding a local noise ordinance, said that the event will not be billed as the Livestock Festival since it will only be a one day event and they wanted to avoid any confusion. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers