Oregon town doubles in size for a day after last-minute Snoop Dogg concert

Snoop Dogg performs during The High Road tour in California in August 2016. (Shutterstock/Sterling Munksgard)

ONTARIO, Ore. (KGW) — The owner of an Ontario, Oregon, dispensary that hosted a Snoop Dogg performance during its grand opening last weekend says the turnout for the event was about equal to the town’s population.

“I’ve heard from people who have lived in the community 60, 70 years,” Hotbox Farms co-owner Steven Meland told KGW. “They’ve never seen anything like this in Ontario.”

Meland estimates between 10,000 and 12,000 people showed up Saturday afternoon for the event in the town of 11,366.

The Ontario Police Department had rolled out its "major incident response protocol and operations plan" to handle the crowds for the Saturday event.

Police said they didn’t find out about the event until about 15 hours before it started, and they announced in a press release that Meland had not filed for a special event permit or a noise permit for the free concert.

He only acquired permits for a fireworks display, beer garden, and food catering.

Meland said he applied for a permit two days ahead of time, about the same time he found out Snoop Dogg would be coming to the grand opening.

“It was something that came about very quickly,” Meland said. “A mutual friend of mine and the other co-owner contacted us. He’s a promoter for nationally touring acts. He came to us with the opportunity to have Snoop Dogg at the event. So, we took him up on it.”

But Meland said the event permit he applied for was denied. He added that Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero didn't want Snoop Dogg to perform, out of concern about the noise levels in the small town.

But Meland said the audience was respectful, police did a great job handling the huge crowd and there were no arrests.

“The concert was amazing. People were very well-behaved and there to have a good time and enjoy the show,” he said. “The only arrest that was related to the event wasn’t even at the event, but someone leaving the event. I believe they got in a car accident and got a DUI.”

And he said other Ontario business owners were excited about the influx of visitors.

“We’ve heard from a lot of business owners. There was some concern from city officials that those people were going to be angry. After talking with them, they were excited to have so many people in the area. It seemed like it was a great thing for everybody. All the fast food places were putting in extra orders.

“I heard several fast food restaurants even ran out of food toward the end of the night.”

Meland said he and his associates are planning to meet with city leaders to discuss how they can better navigate events in the future, to make sure everyone is properly prepared.

And he doesn’t believe he’ll face any fines, though there may be some extra costs associated with the massive, impromptu event.

KGW has reached out to the Ontario Police Department for the official crowd estimate and information on the permit discrepancy but has not yet heard back.

Hotbox is one of the first marijuana dispensaries to open in Ontario since the town began allowing dispensaries.

In January, Ontario started accepting applications for conditional permits for marijuana sales, and Weedology, the city's first pot shop, opened in July.

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