LAKE DELTON — A Wisconsin Dells concert promoter will continue with plans to host a country music festival in the area next summer despite being denied a permit by the town of Delton Board Monday.
Beartooth Ventures Inc. owner Michael Slaght said following the board’s decision that his company is considering a different venue for the proposed Country Splash festival.
Organizers had planned to lease 230 acres of land to host the concerts off Sand Road between Baraboo and Lake Delton. The land is currently zoned for agriculture and would have required a temporary use permit from the town board for a music festival.
“It isn’t done,” Slaght said. “It isn’t done, and it’s just a location that’s very close to the location we’ve already looked at.”
He declined to comment on a specific location of the new site.
If approved, Country Splash would feature week-long camping and three days of performances from big-ticket Nashville stars. Organizers have estimated the festival could attract as many as 15,000 concertgoers each day.
The town of Delton Plan Commission held a public hearing on the proposed festival earlier this month. During the meeting, the panel heard more than two hours of comments both for and against the event. Organizers said the concerts could increase local employment opportunities and customers for local businesses, but neighbors said the festival could cause safety, traffic and noise issues.
Town of Delton attorney Joseph Hasler said Monday the board could either approve a temporary use permit for the festival, deny the permit, or send the request back to the Plan Commission for further discussion.
“We don’t have rezoning before us, and we don’t have a conditional use permit application before us,” he said. “My recommendation is to treat this application as a temporary use, and decide how to go forward based on that.”
Board Supervisor Peter Tollaksen said he opposed both granting the temporary use permit and sending the request back to the Plan Commission.
“Because of the roads and the proximity to so many residents, I would probably have to vote against it no matter what happens,” Tollaksen said. “I think it would be a great idea, but I would like to see it done at a different location—something zoned commercial.”
Board Supervisor Gary Cummings said a majority of constituents he heard from opposed the festival. He added that other events held in the area, like the Badger Steam & Gas Engine Show, are operated by nonprofits.
“The input I have got, most people don’t want it,” Cummings said. “Being a representative of the people, I’m going to have to vote that way.”
The board unanimously denied the request for a temporary use permit.
Beartooth Ventures owners Michael and Kathy Slaght live in Wisconsin Dells and together have nearly 30 years of experience organizing country music festivals. Michael Slaght worked on the development of Country Jam USA in Eau Claire and Country Thunder when it was held in Lake Geneva.
Slaght said he was disappointed with the board’s decision but respected the opinions that were represented.
“Each person has their own right to speak their opinion, and that’s what was done,” he said. “They spoke their opinion, and they listened to the people that are taxpayers in their community, and they followed suit.”