Niles City Council discusses proposed music, cannabis festival

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - The City of Niles is known for hosting the Four Flags Apple Festival, and the Hunter Ice Festival. Now, Niles is being eyed by promoters who want to bring a music and cannabis festival to town.

“It could be the Woodstock of Michigan,” Production Manager Germaine Redding said.

That’s how a proposed cannabis and music festival in Niles is being described, if it ends up happening.

The date for the event is a moving target. A special event permit application calls for a two-day festival in mid-July, but we are told that date will be pushed back due to COVID-related concerns.

Recreational marijuana has gone legal in Michigan, but it really hasn’t yet gone public.

That would change if plans are approved to hold a festival in Riverfront Park near the French Paper dam, featuring up to two music tents that would each hold up to 300 people.

Plans call for 24 total vendors: Eight selling food, eight selling merchandise, and eight selling marijuana.

Michigan state law on temporary marijuana events limits sales to people age 21 and over and states that sales and consumption of marijuana may not be visible from a public place or non-age restricted area. Furthermore, all sales must be made by a licensed dispensary or microbusiness.

The promoters behind the proposed event in Niles are organizing a separate festival in Lansing in August which is being billed as Michigan’s first smoke-friendly event since recreational marijuana was legalized.

With the event application filed, Monday the Niles City Council discussed the event with its promoters.

“I would have to see really good plans. Very detailed what that security looks like, not just at the location but what does that look like for our city?” 4th Ward Member Jessica Nelson said.

“This is going to be our first cannabis event, so safety is the most important thing that we want. We just want to make sure we have a really good reputation for Niles and for our company as well,” Michigan Cannabis Events Mel Spencley said.

Those in Monday’s meeting did express some concerns surrounding the safety and security of the event.

“For a licensed event such as this, this is new. And we don’t have a track record of how many people are going to try to attend this. What’s really going to happen there?” City Administrator Richard Huff said.

Although the council didn’t make any official decisions Monday, some members expressed interest.

“I think this is an outstanding opportunity to be the first one in the state. I think it would attract a lot of attention to the city,” 4th Ward Member John DiCostanzo said.

“We are a great city, and we have great employees, and I think we are blessed with people who can make this a positive. It’ll take some work.” 1st Ward Member Gretchen Bertschy said.

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