Music festival allowed by judge

JOHNSTOWN – A judge Wednesday ruled a three-day music festival in Northampton can start Friday as scheduled.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise denied Northampton’s request for an injunction to prohibit the Mama Strawberry Jam Festival, organized by Deborah Bant at the Solid Rock Ranch.

The town, which has filed a lawsuit against Bant, argued the festival would violate the town’s Special Event Permitting Law. Some town officials say they are concerned about noise and other possible problems at the festival.

Gerard Heckler, an attorney representing Bant, argued the law unfairly targets Bant. He said Bant has had no history of problems with her festival.

“There have been no concerns in the past,” he said.

Sise would not grant an injunction to prohibit this year’s event, but he said Bant can’t use the ranch as a campsite because she has no camping permit from the state.

Bant, who has been running the music festival for 10 years, said she is happy with the decision.

The town sought an order from the court to prevent further advertising, promoting and selling of tickets for the Mama Strawberry Jam, which could attract hundreds of people.

The town passed the special event law in October after residents and officials expressed concerns about possible noise and disruption from the music festival on Maple Grove Road, just north of Northville.

The law requires residents who want to host an event with 300 or more people to get a permit from the Town Board and notify the town 45 days in advance.

Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper said Bant applied for the permit, but the Town Board on Tuesday rejected the application, saying it was incomplete because she didn’t provide information about insurance.

In testimony given before the court, Bant said attendance at her annual event varies from 20 to 150 people.

The music at the event ranges from bluegrass to classic rock, Bant said.

Sise said the show can go on this year, but overnight camping won’t be allowed at the site without state Department of Health approval.

Bant said she still hopes to receive a permit from the state to allow on-site camping. She said she applied for one.

“I’m hoping I get that certificate … The Health Department has been busy,” Bant said.

Bant said she ordered several portable toilets and will have water available at the site.

Bant said vendors are expected to arrive today and music is scheduled to begin Friday.

The event will run through Sunday.

Bant said she does not know where her vendors will stay if they can’t camp at the site.

The ruling on the injunction came before a trial is planned regarding the town’s lawsuit against Bant.

No trial date has been scheduled yet.

People interested in the festival can learn more by searching “Mama’s Strawberry Jam” on Facebook or going to

Arthur Cleveland can be reached at