Harvest Fest Organizer Arrested For Trespassing, Nuisance

FARMER WHO

ORGANIZED FEST

UNDER ARREST

As 1,500 Gathered On Hill, Knarich

Ignored Warnings, Sheriff Alleges

An attendee wanders through the 23 annual NY Harvest Fest & Freedom Fair/Political Rally Sunday afternoon atop Allen Road, Town of New Lisbon, about three miles northwest of Mount Vision. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

George Knarich is being held at the county jail, pending his arraignment. He is expected to be released this evening.

NEW LISBON – The organizer of what’s been described as a pro-marijuana-legalization festival that drew as many as 1,500 people to a rural hilltop over the weekend was arrested this morning.

George A. Knarich, 55, is charged with violating Governor Cuomo’s executive orders against COVID-Era mass gatherings on land, it is further alleged, that had been seized by Otsego County as a tax foreclosure – he didn’t even own it.

According to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., his department received a tip that NY Harvest Fest & Freedom Fair/Political Rally, featuring music and vendors, was still scheduled, despite the executive order banning “non-essential gatherings” of 50 or more people.

The tip was passed along to Heidi Bond, Otsego County Public Health director, who reached out to Knarich.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, along with sheriff’s deputies, delivered a cease-and-desist order on Bond’s behalf. According to Devlin, the property was also foreclosed by the county at that time.

However, the event began Friday as scheduled, and on Saturday, Oct. 10, the deputies returned to serve a notice of hearings for violations of  Title 10 (Health) of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) for promoting a non-essential gathering. The violation carries a fine of up to $15,000.

According to Devlin’s press release, Knarich disobeyed the order and continued hosting the event, and warrants were issued by New Lisbon Town Court.

Knarich was charged with Trespass and Criminal Nuisance in the Second Degree and taken into custody without incident.

The investigation is ongoing and at least one additional arrest is pending, according to the press release.


One thought on “Harvest Fest Organizer Arrested For Trespassing, Nuisance

  1. Magpie

    So did you get the names of the 1500 people and tell them they’re now on the quarantine for 14 days. And just my opinion when do we get to make the choice of protecting ourselves with a mask and not being told we have to do this and the normal thing is if you can’t be six foot apart you need to wear a mask. That’s the law for the mask. So when does our choice come about somebody needs to answer that.

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