Dorchester County has denied the necessary special event permits to two upcoming concerts at the Woodlands Nature Reserve, leaving promoters scrambling to rearrange plans last-minute.
The Slightly Stoopid concert, initially scheduled for Aug. 27 at the 6,000-acre property at 4279 Ashley River Road, has been moved to the North Charleston Coliseum. The change of venue was announced to ticket holders Aug. 25.
"Due to unforeseen circumstances with the Woodlands Nature Reserve, our show with Slightly Stoopid this Saturday has been moved to North Charleston Coliseum," read a mass email from Etix, one of the promoters behind the show. "We apologize for any inconvenience to you; we've exhausted all available options to keep the show at the Woodlands Nature Reserve, but are ultimately unable to do so."
All tickets purchased will transfer over to the new venue, with VIP tickets translating to a private bar and restrooms and premium seating, according to Etix.
Vince Iwinski, music and events manager at the Woodlands Nature Reserve, told The Post and Courier that promoters for Slightly Stoopid received a letter denying their permit for the show on Aug. 19 that cited the property's primary use was shifting from ecotourism to events.
"That is not the case," said Iwinski.
He said the space is primarily used for outdoor activities such as camping, kayaking and hiking, with a handful of music-and-entertainment-related events scattered throughout the year.
Dorchester County's public information officer, Michelle Mills, confirmed that reasoning behind the permit denial by the planning and zoning committee.
"The application was denied as the scale and frequency of the events held at the Woodlands Nature Reserve are no longer incidental and subordinate to the permitted ecotourism use of the property," she told The Post and Courier.
Iwinski said that the county issued a follow-up letter with more clarification, citing an event held at the Woodlands Nature Reserve on July 1 without a permit.
The promoters of that event, a Rainbow Kitten Surprise concert that drew around 5,000 attendees, "unintentionally missed the permitting process," said Iwinski.
"This situation was not due to negligence by the Woodlands Nature Reserve nor the promoters for this weekend's concert," said Iwinski. "(Moving the Slightly Stoopid concert) has a significant negative impact on the Woodlands Nature Reserve's ability to promote ecotourism at the property."
The Slightly Stoopid event would've included camping options for ticketholders, encouraging patrons to come early, stay the night and explore the reserve's outdoor activities.
The permit denial also extends to a weekend festival scheduled at the Woodlands Nature Reserve from Sept. 15-17. The Resonance Music & Arts Festival was slated to feature Goose, Umphrey's McGee, Papadosio and more popular psychedelic jam bands on the grounds.
Casey Schneider of Essential Productions, the entertainment agency behind Resonance, said he was informed 30 days before the event that he would need a special permit. He said Dorchester County only needed 10 days of advance notice, so he went along with the process before being ultimately denied along with Slightly Stoopid.
"All we can divulge at the moment is that the county has indefinitely suspended Woodlands Nature Reserve’s ability to host concerts," Schneider posted on the event's social media pages.
There have not yet been any further announcements on Resonance's plans moving forward.
Iwinski said the special event permit denials have not only been a major disappointment to all involved but will result in unexpected financial losses.
"All the local vendors, event staff, Woodlands Nature Reserve staff, event promoters, scheduled bands and countless area residents that were planning to attend this event have all been immeasurably disappointed, not to mention the immense negative financial impact this has on all involved," he said.
Iwinski was not certain what events at the Woodlands Nature Reserve would look like down the line. Mills at Dorchester County did not have any additional information on whether any or all future events at the reserve would be denied special permits.