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Proposal takes aim at Juggalos, biker parties in Southern Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD – Officials in a small southern Illinois county could get some power to control raucous events that bring thousands of partiers – and some major problems -- to the region each summer.

In action Thursday, an Illinois House committee gave tentative approval to legislation designed to give Hardin County officials the ability to levy a tax on people who attend events like the Hog Rock biker rally and the Gathering of the Juggalos.

Money raised from the tax could go toward law enforcement, clean-up costs and other expenses associated with the gatherings.

The proposal also could give counties the ability to deny promoters the ability to hold the events.

“When they have these gatherings, a lot of crazy things happen,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, who sponsored the measure.

If approved, an admission tax would be capped at 6.5 percent of the ticket. The cost of Hog Rock is about $40 per person.

The county last year says it cost about $20,000 to cover the expenses of the events, which are promoted by Tim York and held on private property near Cave-In-Rock. The Illinois State Police also provide extra manpower to help keep crowds in check.

The events have been marked by rowdy behavior and punctuated by deaths, thefts, drug use and public intoxication. Along with music and camping, games are held, including topless Hula Hoop contests and wet t-shirt competitions.

“They can’t afford this,” Phelps said. “All we’re asking the promoter is to pony up.”

York could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Phelps said he remains in talks with supporters and opponents and hopes to have a final draft in front of the full House later this spring.

Hog Rock, which has been held in the county for 15 years, is scheduled to get underway in June.

The legislation is House Bill 5479.

(Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-782-4043)

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