Mountain Jam Festival came under scrutiny from fans last year, after it was reported that over 50 attendees were arrested, with state troopers and law enforcement vigorously patrolling the festival’s attendees. While the festival addressed some of these concerns when they posted their initial headliners listing, an official statement speaks to the complete changes at this year’s Mountain Jam:

This is Gary Chetkof, co-owner and founder of Mountain Jam. I’m writing to address some issues with our own hired festival security and local police presence at Mountain Jam.

I am, first and foremost, a lover of live music. I’ve been to countless music festivals, both large and small, all over the world, and I know exactly how I want to be treated when I attend these events. At Mountain Jam, my mantra has always been to treat attendees with the same level of respect that I expect when I attend festivals. I am as upset as you are about the overzealous security searches that have taken place in previous years and I realize that we have let you down. I can assure you that we are bringing in the right security team this year; one that will focus on keeping the peace and protecting the safety of our attendees while respecting your personal space and privacy. That is of the utmost importance to me and I am going to personally monitor the gates along with some of my key staff, to ensure that our new “peace keeping” team acts appropriately.

We have also heard stories of local law enforcement officials busting Mountain Jam attendees for smoking weed and, in some cases, appearing to “extort” money by requiring their use of ATMs in order to pay fines. While these stories are rare, they are most certainly a misuse of police resources, and we are working very closely with local officials to address these types of reports and to make sure that frivolous busts are not made at our festival.

At every major music festival, state police as well as emergency service personnel, require a local headquarters to operate from. Law enforcement’s #1 priority is to ensure public safety and they are a great resource in times of emergencies. At our festival and at others, officials also often set up a temporary court room in order to quickly process those folks who are brought into custody. Local law enforcement point out that for minor infractions, it is in the best interest of the patron to be processed quickly, on-site, and to be released back into the festival to enjoy the rest of the weekend rather than having to be transported to an off-site facility miles away for processing and left to find their own transportation back to the Festival. In this scenario, we (the festival) are caught between a rock and a hard place and ultimately we decided it would be better to keep our patrons on-site. We continue to believe that we are making the right decision on this, but we are open to hear your thoughts too.

We are doing our absolute best to ensure that both our on-site security and local law enforcement do not get in the way of your wonderful experience with us at Mountain Jam 2015. We devote our entire year to working on the Festival and making it the best it can be. It sickens me to know that some of our MJ Family have been mistreated and we are working hard on correcting this. We ask for your continued support of our efforts to provide you with four incredible days of music and revelry in one of the most beautiful, natural festival settings in foothills of the Catskill Mountains. If you have issues or concerns, we have established a dedicated e-mail box that I will constantly monitor before, during and after the Festival –

Thank you and we hope that 2015 will be a great year for everyone and that we can celebrate together in peace and harmony.

Peace, Love & Music,
Gary Chetkof
Mountain Jam Festival