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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 9, 2010

Crater music fest gets permit

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, one of the founding members of War, performed in 2006 during the Diamond Head Crater Festival.


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A state panel yesterday granted the organizer of the Diamond Head International Music Festival a special use permit to hold music events in the crater in 2011 and 2012.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the permit request by the nonprofit Diamond Head International Music Festival Inc., which is proposing the two-day festivals at the Diamond Head State Monument. The organizer brought the festival back to the crater in 2006 and 2007 after a nearly 30-year absence.

Festival organizer Ron Gibson said no dates have been set for next year's event and it's too early to discuss who will perform. But he said the show will feature a blend of local, national and international talent.

"It's a two-day event and we're all very excited about that. We'll have the potential to entertain up to 15,000 people and really bring something spectacular to the crater," Gibson said.

The two previous events each drew about 6,000 people and had headliners such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Mick Fleetwood, the Steve Miller band and War. The festivals were seen as throwbacks to the 1970s when thousands of people packed the crater for all-day music events.

Those events, however, were marred by fights, drugs and other problems that spilled into the community. The land board placed restrictions on the use of the crater for the 2006 and 2007 festivals and there were no reports of serious trouble.

In a document presented to the board, Dan Quinn, state parks director, said the 2006 and 2007 festivals had "minimal to no significant effect on the resources and the surrounding community." In these tough economic times, he said, the state could consider more events as a source of income.

"Events such as these in the Monument can also be a source of revenue for the department and the Division of State Parks with these funds being used to improve visitor services at Diamond Head State Monument and other state parks," Quinn wrote.

In approving the permit, the board placed several conditions on the organizer, including a nonrefundable $10,000 deposit per event. The organizer also must pay a crater rental fee of $50,000 or 5 percent of gross revenues, whichever is greater.

Gibson said he worked closely with the state on the conditions and has no problems with them.

The permit request drew opposition from members of several citizens groups that were formed to protect the Diamond Head Monument. Clark Hatch, a Diamond Head resident and member of the Diamond Citizen's Advisory Committee and Diamond Head State Monument Foundation, said a state master plan prohibits these uses in the crater.

"It's contrary to the master plan so we have no flexibility whatsoever," Hatch said. "We have to go along with trying to support the rules and regulations that were written by the advisory committee and the DLNR and signed into law by the governor."

Hatch said the two earlier festivals caused some traffic problems in the area, but otherwise did not lead to many complaints from the community. Still, he said large events such as these do not belong in the crater.

"The foundation was designed to protect the natural environment of Diamond Head and prevent it from being overrun by unusual events and activities that are endangering the park itself," Hatch said. "We have a responsibility of trying to maintain the serenity of it. It's an icon. It's our most recognized monument and we don't want it to be turned into a strange venue for rock concerts and everything else."

Gibson said he agrees with Hatch that Diamond Head needs to be protected. He said the festivals are about honoring the Hawaiian culture and its music.

"Quite frankly we agree with so many of the things that they say and we honor that," he said. "We know it's a special place and we've taken very good care and in our opinion we've actually left it in better shape than when we got it."

The land board also will require that the park be open to the public from 6 a.m. to noon on the days of the festival. In 2006 and 2007, the crater was closed all day.

Also, the board will allow the festivals to run until 11 p.m. each day, an hour later than the two previous events.