Proponents of a marijuana festival for Dysart et al will have to make significant changes if the event is to get off the ground for 2020.

Dysart’s events and recreation programming committee voted 4-1 against Potapalooza at their meeting Oct. 8.

Diana Gomes and Maureen Rogers appeared before the committee this past Tuesday with more details of the fair they first brought to the committee in June.

They said the festival is geared towards the de-stigmatization and healthy teaching of how and when to use cannabis.

“Due to the legalization of cannabis, we are aware that a lot of people are still not correctly informed of all the advantages of cannabis. We intend to cover all genres of cannabis production and what is available to the consumer,” they told the committee.

Their proposal is for Sept. 11-13 in Head Lake Park. They estimated they would have 100 vendors and attract 6,500 people. They said proceeds would go to area youth but had no specifics.

Committee member Laurie Jones was the only one to vote in favour of a motion supporting a cannabis education expo, Sept. 11-13, 2020 with organizers working with staff on a park use agreement. Voting against were: Coun. Walt McKechnie, committee member Nicki BrazierHagarty, Mayor Andrea Roberts and Coun. Larry Clarke.

Jones said the proponents could help their cause by changing the name from Potapalooza to something such as the cannabis education festival. She also suggested they scale it back for a first-time event. Jones quoted the information from Gomes and Rogers about de-stigmatizing and healthy teaching. She acknowledged there is a large seniors’ population in Dysart et al that might be opposed to such a fair, but also a lot of people using cannabis and CBD oil. She said the popularity of Capturing Eden demonstrated a need. She added it would give accommodators another weekend to make money.

Roberts said she’s fine with Capturing Eden but she’d had ratepayers approach her to say they don’t want a marijuana festival and the committee had to decide if it was something they were prepared to support. “What we put our name to is endorsing it.”

Roberts, who researched a recent Baysville event in the Township of Muskoka during the meeting, said there’s was a one-day event, with 20 vendors, eight speakers, and held indoors at an arena. She said she’d be more likely to support something on that scale, rather than the proposed Potapalooza.

During a lengthy discussion, Clarke said when area seniors hear Potapalooza, they’re thinking Woodstock. That’s not what it is.” He suggested organizers come up with a name “to properly describe what you’re trying to do.”

Gomes said Potapalooza was simply a working name and it could change.

Brazier-Hagarty thought the idea was good in principle, but organizer’s expectations over-zealous.

McKechnie said he was not open about the issue and thought council should make the final decision.

After the vote, Jones asked if the proponents could come back with a smaller scale event at a different venue. Clarke said he would encourage them to do so.

Gomes and Rogers expressed frustration throughout their delegation. They said they had researched similar festivals, gathered information and sought out interested vendors. They said they would have had even more vendors if they had a date locked down with the township. They also presented a budget to the committee, estimating a cost of $45,000. They said they planned to fence in the event and keep it far from the children’s playground and donate proceeds to charity.

Gomes, who uses cannabis to manage her fibromyalgia, said, “I’m a functioning pothead.” She added, “The last thing we want to do is screw up.”

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