Dunning Says No “Do Over” for Long Branch Event Application

Event application problems associated with a June 4th music and beer festival planned for historic Long Branch have angered a county supervisor who says that the event should not be approved. “Rock N’ River”, which organizers say will attract less than 1,000 people, would feature three bands and last until 9:00 pm if approved by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.

The fate of Long Branch's June 4 Rock N' River event will be decided on May 24th by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors

“This whole application has been an abortion,” said a visibly angry Supervisor Pete Dunning (White Post) at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors work session meeting. “If this is approved aren’t we setting a precedent that if you screw up an application you can give a wink to Mike [Hobert] and John [Staelin] and still go forward?”

According to the Long Branch website, Rock N’ River will be a “topical [sic] melt out from the ice and snow we have right now with the heat from the Trop-Rock bands Parrot Beach (A Jimmy Buffet tribute band), Pan Masters (steel drum orchestra), the popular Souled Out and the local musicians The Golden Butter Band!” The website also says that a portion of the proceeds will benefit “The Downstream Project” (http://www.thedownstreamproject.org/) an organization founded by Clarke County Planning Commission chairman George Ohrstrom.

Dunning’s Tuesday anger was a continuance of a similar display of displeasure that occurred at the Supervisors April 19th regular meeting when Long Branch Executive Director, David Boyce addressed the Board of Supervisors to defend the Rock N’ River application after the application was questioned by County Administrator, David Ash.

Ash questioned whether Long Branch’s February 25th initial application, which classified the event as “small” – Long Branch estimated a maximum expected attendance of 475 people in its application – was accurate. Ash also said that the county’s standard site access form which authorizes private property oversight and access to the event by county personnel had not been submitted. Ash said that instead, Long Branch had replaced the standard access application with the statement, “The Administrator, designee, and/or law enforcement officers will not enter ‘the property’ LONG BRANCH unless a ‘representative’ of   ‘the property’ LONG BRANCH is present.”

Director Boyce’s attempt to defend the application during the April 19th meeting did little to sway the Supervisors to approve the event. After stern questioning of Mr. Boyce by Supervisor Dunning, the Board of Supervisors denied the Rock N’ River application, but told Boyce that the denial should not be taken as a sign of lack of support for Long Branch, rather as an invitation to revise the Rock N’ River application for resubmission.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Dunning continued pressure to reject the application.

“They’ve asked for 500 people and three bands. There’s no way that they can do this with only that many people. Approving this is precedent setting and shows very poor leadership. Will this same treatment go for everyone who makes a future application John?” Dunning asked Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood).

“We gave a signal to them at the last meeting to re-apply and that we would look at the application a month later. All that we said was that if they got something in on time we’d reconsider it,” Staelin said. “I think that people need to be held accountable. Long Branch is only under the impression that we will re-look at it. We didn’t say that we would approve it.”

Although Long Branch’s initial application was turned down in April, several Supervisors expressed continued support for the organization and its goals prompting Chairman Hobert to extend an offer to Boyce for the Board of Supervisors to quickly review a new application by Long Branch and approve or deny it at the next regular meeting scheduled for May 24, 2011.

But because the Rock N’ River event date, June 4, has already been publicly advertised by Long Branch, approval of the application by the Supervisors would require the board to forgo its standard process for dealing with similar requests in order to accommodate Long Branch’s schedule. Normally, a medium-sized event application, less than 1,000 attendees, is reviewed by the Board of Supervisors during a regular meeting at which time the Board may approve, disapprove, or at the Board’s discretion, sets the matter for public hearing at the next regular Board of Supervisors meeting.

Coincidentally, two envelopes containing Long Branch’s revised application were delivered to administrator Ash during the Tuesday morning Supervisor’s meeting. According to county staff, the Tuesday submission comes after a second application received on May 2, 2011 was determined to be incomplete and returned to Long Branch.

Over objections from Supervisor Dunning, the envelopes delivered to Ash during the meeting were not immediately opened.

“Let’s open it and have a look at what they’ve sent,” Dunning said before being overruled by Supervisor Chairman, Michael Hobert (Berryville) who noted that review Long Branch’s proposal was not on the work session agenda.

While Dunning’s comments implied that Long Branch may be the recipient of favorable treatment, other board members saw the application accommodation differently.

“I think that we are demonstrating that we are willing to bend over backwards for an organization that has done a lot for Clarke County,” said Hobert. “Any organization that we have had a relationship with over a long period of time deserves for us to be reasonable with them.”

“This event will bring a lot of tourists to the area,” said Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell). “Hopefully some of them will give their business to the county. We are trying to encourage economic activity here.”

Reached on Wednesday, Long Branch director David Boyce said that he believes that his latest application will address the concerns of the Supervisors.

“The ability of the required, supporting agencies, namely; VA State Police, VA DOT, VA ABC, Clarke County Sheriff’s Department, Clarke County Health Department, Clarke Buildings Department and Boyce EMS, to accommodate the increase was a concern amongst some of the Supervisors. The amended application, however, includes the support from all the above mentioned agencies,” Boyce said. “Thus, the Board of Supervisors will render the final decision at the next BOS meeting.”



  1. Oh my! Rock-N-Roll and beer may be the underlying problems. If it ain’t country or bluegrass, it won’t fly. That rock-n-roll might even scare the horses like those big hot air balloons do! And beer! Someonne may start dancing or getting a little loud! Can’t have that!

  2. Seriously, isnt their bigger items that Dunning could waste his time on, if he was part of the application, he would be winking, blowing sirens and pitching whatever good ole boy handshake he needed to do, to get his party application approved!!! Once a Dunning Always a Dunning !! Can’t wait for his term to be done !!

  3. ElinorDashwood says:

    Yes Bubba, hasn’t he always been against the hot air balloon festival as well? Why is that? How did approval go through for the big, multi-band concert on a farm in Boyce last summer, or was that considered private? I heard there were three to five hundred people at that…

    • GOPjunky says:

      Those are fellow farmers! Anything for the farmers! Long Branch is a non-profit and events such as this is how money is raised to keep the place running! Leave it to say NO Dunning to to put the kibosh on anything interesting or fun that might bring Clarke County some positive attention.

      • Smellin roses says:

        I seem to recall both Dunning and Byrd gettin right upset with the Hot Air Balloon Festival’s permit application becausde a couple of balloons the previous year had flown low and “spooked’ some horses. They ultimately did approve it, as it is one of the largest events in the county, if not the area.

  4. My 2 Cents says:

    What a piece of work this guy is…. How many winks have went your way throughout your many terms on the BOS??? If it doesn’t benefit this guy, his answer is ALWAYS NO! CC cannot wait until you are gone!!!!!!!!!!

  5. cheapshot says:

    [redacted] Mr. Boyce, who had previously manage historic Oatlands over the mountain. long branch has to maintain their place; they host community events, from the fox hunt to the easter egg hunt, at virtually no cost. They provide public services, but need revenue to survive! In an election year, when tourism is touted by candidates, what better place to start a new event than on 400+ acres? it is also the result of a highly-flawed ordinance-the argumant that the application was incomplete is countered by the onerous, confusing nature of the application-i think writing a novel from scratch might be easier than completing that application. ask a county staff member if they think the ordinance serves the purpose-I’ll bet they, as the ones who have to sift through these applications, would not be big supporters. Also, realize that if there were a barn big enough to put the people in, the ordinance wouldnt apply, even though the traffic, etc would be the same, because it doesnt apply to indoor events-there goes the health, safety & welfare argument. I applaud Mr. Hobert & Ms. byrd for voting to support the application, and hope someone else on the Board has the sense to change their vote. It would set a new precedent, Pete, for good sense over contrariness!

    CDN Editor: The BOS have yet to vote on Long Branch’s current Rock N’ River application.


  7. [redacted] Dunning has been against anything that might prove enjoyment to younger people in this county. He is a holdover from the generation who believed this county was only for the well healed gentry and the people who worked for said gentry. I’m amazed how he keeps getting elected when everybody I know didn’t vote for him and they don’t know of a single person who did.

    Time for him to retire [redacted]

  8. Is this the same festival that was held in Boyce on a private farm that was full of underage kids drinking last summer? I remember seeing pictures that someone posted on here that linked to a FB account and had picture after picture of teens and adults drinking with the teens. I for one will be pleased if the BOS deny this request if it will help curb the drinking and driving. Lord knows many residents of this county enjoy getting plastered and getting into their vehicle.

    • Bob Kelly says:

      Hmmmm…. Reminds me of some ritualistic behavior involving Rebel Yell I once had the pleasure of witnessing. Amirite?

    • If denial of this application were for the purposes of keeping drunks off the road, then maybe. The problem here is not that, the problem here is that for some reason Dunning wants to deny an application for basically no other reason than because he can. And for that reason, it would be a shame to see it denied.

      And your right, plenty of residents do enjoy “getting plastered and getting into their vehicle” as people do in every other city, county, and state in the US. Does that make it right, heck no, but to think denial of this application will solve that problem, is just not accurate.

    • ElinorDashwood says:

      In all liklihood, the music festival is probably one in the same. My teenage son named several bands that were on the venue and asked to go. He didn’t get permission and not just because it cost $15 to get in. I just used google maps to locate the farm and was a little surprised at what I found.
      I would like to see Longbranch have their concert but I think a police presence should be required there to assure there is no underage drinking and to arrest the adults that still aren’t mature enough to know when to stop.

  9. If you are worried about drinking and driving maybe you should mention the Point to Point races.

    • Bob Kelly says:

      Or the various wine tastings that the local vintners along the Blue Ridge offer …

  10. cheapshot says:

    So the Longbranch rock’n’river festival now is dead. Did it die after a dramatic re-vote by the BOS? no, the official reason will be-Incomplete Application. So boring; no one will probably pay attention. After the initial turndown by the county, and the days of scrambling by the long Branch folks to complete the application, along with some lobbying, there apparently was a ray of hope, until, on the last day to complete, a call from the county EMS services saying they would not, after all, despite their letter to the affirmative with the first application, be able to supply the required EMS services the day of the festival. How conveeeeenient for the BOS; no need to vote, or go on record now as “Aye” or “nay”-the application is stillborn because of the lack of a required service, to be provided by a county-affiliated agency. this is not a cut to EMS-those people are dedicated and highly competent, but as an agency they are a “servant to the county” There are a lot of possible reasons that EMS couldnt deliver (too many other events that day, booked since the date of 1st turndown; didnt realize the re=application had been made). but the coincidence of it happening on the LAST DAY, when there was no time to get a replacement service from a neighboring county…… After all the rhetoric from a certain bOS member (“the application is an abortion”, etc), if one were to be a conspiracy theorist, one might wonder. It will be interesting, come June 4, to see what events are happening that suddenly filled the eMS schedule. It is also interesting to ask, and I dont know the answer, did the ‘pony -to-go festival, held a week or 2 ago, have the required EMS services on-site? In my last post, my theory as to why a certain BOS member has it in for longbranch was redacted, so this time I will merely ask the readers if they know the recent history between that BOS member and Long branch? Hint-you don’t even have to go back a year.

  11. Stonebroke says:

    How can one person be allowed to run a dictatorship over a whole county? It just doesn’t make sense to me?

  12. My 2 Cents says:

    Good question……. Better yet, how has he done it for so long????

  13. Embarassed says:

    Well, Pete ole chap, the tax payers of Clarke can thank you for screwing them out of more tax dollars going into the ol’ revenue column. Just think of all those people who would have been stopping in Waterloo to get gas, or a bite to eat, or stopping at the Mill, or Locke’s General Store. Not to mention the people such as the vendors, hired hands at Long Branch, and Long Branch its self whom you have screwed out of money they were hoping to get from this event. You are an embarassment to this county.
    You hold it back from progress and being a county citizens would be glad to claim as their home. Instead we are the laughing stock of the area and the state. We are laughed at by taking 10 years to build a new high school and like idiots, build it to small to grow into. I have been through out the state and when people hear where I am from that is one of the first things they mention. The other is the poor salaries you pay most of the servents to the citizens. Let’s see you BOS members try to make it on what you pay a deputy sheriff, a medic, or anyone else. YOU COULD NOT DO IT!!! I have talked with a lot of them and most go to work burned out because they have to have a part time job to make ends meet. Is that what the citizens of Clarke deserve?! A burnt out employee trying to survive?
    But, you BOS members could give a [redacted] because you have money! You spend millions of dollars on land instead of paying employees a deserving salary.
    All those tax dollars the citizens spend, and for what? A new high school that will be too small in a few years for kids to go to. Why do I hear concerned parents about their child’s education saying that their kid is not learning anything when they get till the end of the grading term to turn in weeks over due homework? I think for most of us when we were in school you got a 0 and you learned how the real world has deadlines. When kids misbehave they are sent to a seperate building and given a few worksheets to do and then they sleep and hang out. Wow – really worth all that money! Not! Maybe some of those higher paid school personel should take a paycut and give it to someone who can put it to good use. And by that I don’t mean the BOS!

    • Don’t forget that it was also the fault of the taxpayers that kept electing him. Everyone knows that Pete hates anything that Long Branch does because it causes “psychological damage” to his animals. If you all want to see more of the same, just vote for his “protege” Bev McKay.

  14. Harrdware says:

    This sounded like an event this (middle-aged) Clarke County resident (and voter) would like to have attended.

    I guess I will have to keep driving out of the county to events like this and give them my $$.

    Sure is dead quiet around here, though.