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Riot Fest denied a permit by Arapahoe County to host festival in Byers

A band performs at last year's Riot Fest.
A band performs at last year's Riot Fest.
Aaron Thackeray

UPDATE: Riot Fest's organizers announced plans on July 18 to move the festival to the grounds of Sports Authority Field. In addition, organizers said they would offer any Byers residents interested in attending Riot Fest free admission, as well as free shuttle service to the venue.

"Simply, we were duped," founder Mike Petryshyn said in a statement. "Certain groups, residents and so forth did not want YOU or US in their town, and there is something morally dishonest and unforgiveable with their actions. Sean and I have been mum throughout this entire ordeal, but that will stop today. We have officially filed an appeal with Arapahoe County as of this morning and, needless to say, we are doing this because we are in the right."

Riot Fest, which was scheduled take place this September in the small town of Byers, has been denied the temporary-use permit it would have needed to host the music festival and carnival as it had done last year. (This story has been updated below.)

Following a public hearing in which residents of Byers voiced their concerns with the three-day punk music festival's impact on the town, including safety, traffic and noise, Arapahoe County announced today that it won't grant the permit.

See also: Riot Fest returns to Denver September 19 to 21

A fan at Riot Fest last year in Byers
A fan at Riot Fest last year in Byers
Aaron Thackeray

The county released a full statement on their website earlier this morning, saying: "The decision to deny is based upon traffic impacts and public safety concerns that would adversely impact surrounding property owners."

Temporary-use permits are only granted if the applicant can prove the event "shall not adversely affect surrounding property owners and that off-street parking spaces are adequate and will not adversely impact surrounding areas."

While Riot Fest did provide a plan to decrease the negative impact on the area compared to last year, it was found insufficient based on public concerns.

Typically, the county doesn't hold public hearings for a temporary-use permit, but there was such demand from the local residents that one was conducted.

The organizers of Riot Fest can appeal the decision if they wish, says Arapahoe County spokeswoman Andrea Rasizer. "We did notify them of their right to appeal. They have ten calendar days to notify the zoning administration."

If they do, the case will be heard by the county's Board of Adjustment, an independent citizen review panel. The original decision was made by the zoning administrator.

But Riot Fest has released its own statement about the denial, saying it won't appeal and that it plans to move to another location in the Denver area: "Due to circumstances beyond our control and normal procedures for large scale events, Riot Fest will be moving to it's alternate location in the Denver area, to be announced early next week. Riot Fest & Sideshow is not cancelled. Tickets will be honored in the new location."

Westword will update this post when more information is available.

Several acts, including Primus, The Cure, Wu-Tang Clan and Slayer, had been scheduled to perform at the fest, September 19-21 at May Farms in Byers -- the same piece of private property where it was held last year. Byers is forty miles east of Denver.


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