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Rothbury festival called off this year; organizers hope it can return in '11

Brian McCollum
Detroit Free Press (MCT)

DETROIT — Organizers have pulled the plug on this year's Rothbury festival, the much-touted rock and environmental fest that drew thousands of camping concertgoers to western Michigan the past two summers.

But they say they are moving toward the event's return in 2011.

Event producers Madison House Presents and AEG Live said a factor was difficulty in assembling an artist lineup.

"We are not able to move forward with the integrity and high standards that we demand from ourselves and for the festival," said Jeremy Stein of Madison House Presents.

The festival launched on Fourth of July weekend in 2008, garnering positive reviews for both its music lineup and devoted green focus, including a progressive use of sustainable technologies. Rothbury embraced an unconventional music approach that assembled both rootsy rock bands (Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Allman Brothers Band) and edgy electronic-dance acts.

Organizers managed to reprise Rothbury last summer amid financial struggles for the Double JJ Ranch, the fest's lush rural site 25 miles north of Muskegon. The 72-year-old ranch was purchased from bankruptcy court in July by a Pennsylvania resorts firm.

After an initial embrace from residents near the Double JJ, rumblings of discontent began to emerge in recent months. Officials with Grant Township were considering ordinances that would have forced a 1 a.m. noise curfew, among other restrictions.

Stein addressed the possibility of the fest's return in 2011: "Our efforts are certainly not coming to an end."

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