A music and arts festival expected to draw thousands of people, and even more in revenue, could come to Kern County. The Board of Supervisors Tuesday considered bringing the “Lightning in a Bottle” festival to Lake Buena Vista near Taft. Some in attendance expressed support, but some also shared concerns.    

Dede Flemming, Co-President of Do LaB [Sic], the events production company putting on the festival, said the county will greatly benefit from the festival, and he noted Lake Buena Vista is a good venue for the event.

“Buena vista is a beautiful lake that you can swim in, you have trees everywhere, you have real grass, which is exciting,” he said.

The five-day festival has been taking place for 15 years. It includes more than 100 artists such as singers, dancers, and yoga instructors. 

Some at the meeting expressed concerns. In the last two years, two attendees died while attending the festival in Monterey. Fleming said one of those deaths was an accidental drowning, and another was a drug overdose. Supervisors voiced concerns about the possibility for drugs.

David Couch of the 4th Supervisorial District asked Flemming “about the odds that [there] will be absolutely zero drug use during this five day music and arts festival,” to which Flemming responded with “zero.”

Another concern brought up by supervisors was to ensure the limit of attendees is not exceeded.  In Monterey, the limit was 20,000 but Flemming admits more than 20,000 people attended the event. He said that was, in part, because the venue could hold closer to 30 thousand, and the festival was encouraged to grow over the years.     

Flemming added the festival has a budget of at least $300,000 set solely for security. He noted his dedication to working with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office to maintain a safe environment, and he said he understands the limit at Lake Buena Vista is not to exceed 25,000.

“Putting on an event of this size, safety is always our number one concern. It’s a big issue everybody has. We take it very seriously. And there’s a lot of things we do to make sure attendees at our event are safe.”

He continued by emphasizing that the festival will be good for the local economy.

“We’re talking about bringing in 25,000 people, not just from California, but from around the world. We have people coming in from 60 countries and all 50 states. So when they fly here, when they drive here, they’re spending money in the county.”

Supervisors remained optimistic, but noted there are still details to be worked out, which is why they delayed the vote. A representative with the CHP said the agency did not find out about the plans until recently. 

“Literally we found out about this event yesterday. We have not been talked to, we have not looked at the plan, we don’t even have knowledge,” the officer said.

Another concern brought up by supervisors is traffic. Some members of the board point out Cal Trans plans to begin construction this March at the intresection of of State Route 43 and State Route 119, also known as Taft Highway.

Supervisors are scheduled to discuss the matter at the next meeting on February 26.