Canton residents upset about music festival planned for November

Council upset with contract breaches by event organizer

Canton City Council controversy

CANTON, Texas (KLTV) - Dozens of residents gathered at Canton City Hall on Wednesday morning to express their concerns about a music festival planned for the first weekend of November at the Canton Civic Center, on the grounds of First Monday Trade Days.

Residents say they’re worried about possible drug use and violence linked to the festival, while event organizers say that’s not what they’re about.

“We have an electrical music event that has been advertised as a rave on Facebook,” said Mayor Lou Ann Everett.

Everett said advertisements for the event are raising concerns around town. She pointed out drug use in the event logo, and the name itself.

“As the only woman up here, I am offended by your (event) name,” Everett said in Wednesday’s council meeting. "Did you not ever think about, with a Christian background, naming something “Slvtzgiving?”

An advertisement for the event that many residents are upset with.
An advertisement for the event that many residents are upset with. (Source: Courtesy photo)

Everett said residents are concerned about, “safety, sex trafficking, noise, medical facilities because we expect drugs and alcohol.”

The event organizer, Grayson Berry, argues the name means ‘spreading loving vibes through Zen.' He tells KLTV 7 that no drugs will be allowed at the event, which was already approved by the city.

“No. We don’t encourage that," Berry said. "That’s not something we’re here for. We are here just for the music and entertainment side of things.”

City councilman Andrew Vaughn said while some community members are upset with a portion of festival proceeds going to Black Lives Matter, contract breaches by the event organizers are the bigger problem.

“A lot of the community was concerned about various connections to organizations like Black Lives Matter,” Vaughn said. "And that wasn’t my concern or the council’s chief concern. We don’t care who they’re giving their proceeds to, as much as the various issues where they’re already out of compliance with their contract with the city.”

For now, the issue is tabled while the city gives the event organizer a chance to clean up his act when it comes to contract breaches, including advertising for additional dates not approved by the city. It’s a decision that many residents weren’t pleased with.

“They weren’t listening to the people,” said Garry Nelson, a resident who attended the meeting. "The people don’t want this type of event to go on because of the type of people that will be coming in. It’s just not right.”

Council meets again on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The event website says along with Black Lives Matter, a portion of the profit will also go to the City of Canton.

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.