Shut out of several outdoor sites and forced into a nomadic existence, organizers of Skinful Halloween set their sights on salvaging the massive party by squeezing it into a downtown Charleston nightclub.
But less than a day after organizers announced plans for an inaugural throw-down at the Music Farm on Oct. 26, city of Charleston officials said they were told by the Ann Street club that no such event was scheduled.
Neither Music Farm representatives nor Skinful founder Brian King, a local veterinarian, could be reached for comment. But King’s partner in the event, Dave “Big Hair” Brisacher of the Dubplates, insisted it was still a go.
Brisacher said he’s not sure who the city talked to, but the party will continue in a smaller form, catering to a maximum crowd of 690 people (the Music Farm’s capacity) rather than the several thousand who attended in past years.
“All we are trying to do is put three bands on that have already been contracted,” he said.
The Music Farm website had no listing for the party and no mention of it was made in a promotional email the club sent out Tuesday about upcoming events. But Skinful’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account continued to promote the event, with tickets selling for $100 each.
Skinful Halloween announced its plans to locate there in a lengthy screed posted on its Facebook page Monday night. Skinful organizers vented frustration in the post over the opposition they faced this year in finding a place to hold the party.
In the post, organizers pointed fingers at town and county officials, accusing them of throwing up roadblocks over zoning and noise issues that effectively shut Skinful out of every outdoor site it found. The post was removed Tuesday.
Skinful Halloween, now in its 13th year, began as an annual party at King’s home in James Island’s Riverland Terrace neighborhood but moved outdoors in 2007 when it outgrew that space. It bounced around a bit, but maintained its popularity, even after one attendee was killed while crossing Folly Road in 2011, allegedly run down by another partygoer who was drunk.
A lawsuit filed by the victim’s father against Skinful and King is still pending.
The event lost its most recent home at the Brick House Kitchen on James Island when an ordinance curtailing noise after 11 p.m. was adopted for the area last year, organizers said in the Facebook post. A similar ordinance killed plans to move the party to Dolphin Cove Marina, located in Charleston’s Neck area, they said.
Skinful then arranged to hold the party at a 70-acre farm in rural Meggett, complete with on-site parking and camping. Organizers said they obtained a business license from the town, booked talent such as hip hop artist Flavor Flav and began promoting the event. A week later, the town informed them a zoning change was needed — a process that would take at least six weeks, according to the Facebook post.
Meggett Mayor Harry V. “Buster” Herrington III said a special zoning exception, not a change, was required to host the event on the property, which is zoned for agricultural use. Skinful chose not to pursue that option when they were informed of the requirement in September, he said.
Herrington said Meggett residents were upset over “the noise, the safety and the content” of the party, which promotes a sexy rather than scary theme. Its symbol is a pumpkin in a thong.
“Certainly, our residents were up in arms about it,” he said. “Meggett is a very quiet, residential area and it caused of a lot of concerns among our residents.”
Organizers tried to book the Ladson fairgrounds and expo halls in North Charleston, but found them already taken, the Facebook post stated. Zoning restrictions also killed a plan to use a 5,000-acre tract in Dorchester County, the post stated.
Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Manager Alec Brebner said Skinful wanted to use a portion of the Poplar Grove tract off Cross County Road and park 1,000 cars there. The only site access came from a narrow dirt road, which presented public safety concerns, should emergency help be needed. In addition, the land is zoned for residential use, he said.
Another plan to locate the party to a 300- to 400-acre plantation in Charleston County also fell apart after a county zoning worker pointed an Edisto Beach community leader toward Skinful’s website and explained how to get the event shut down through a permit appeal, organizers said.
Charleston County spokesman Shawn Smetana said workers followed standard operating procedures, which included making the community aware of “changes in use of land” and special events with the potential for large crowds.
“County staff had discussions with the applicant about the need to inform area residents for the Edisto site and several other potential sites that he considered,” Smetana said. “He was fully aware of the importance to notify those in the surrounding area, and he provided us with his contact information to pass along to these residents.”
Skinful organizers said in the Facebook post that the end result is that a host of businesses, support workers and artists will be out of work the night of the party.
“Luckily the Music Farm was willing to take our main stage acts and help us make the best of this difficult situation,” the post read. “We will have the most epic Music Farm show ever.”
Still, Skinful’s website offered refunds for a 48-hour period for those who want their money back.
Skinful Halloween, now in its 13th year, drew revelers to James Island last year.×
The Ancient Echos played with fire at last year’s Skinful at Brickhouse×
The Ancient Echos played with fire at last year’s Skinful at the Brick House Kitchen.×
Leslie, Catherine, Sarah, Sasha, Alex and Rod at Skinful held at Brickhouse in 2012.×