All told, over the Gathering's five-day run in 2013, police will make thirteen arrests, down from twenty last year. The majority of offenses are drug related. (The Hardin County Sheriff's office tells Riverfront Times that large quantities of LSD, meth and marijuana were seized. Twelve suspected overdoses were reported, up from zero last year, all from individuals who had ingested a new designer drug known as "25I," whose effects mimic that of LSD. "This year was different, in that Hog Rock security really worked with us," a sheriff's spokeswoman reports. "Anything we needed, they gave us. They even allowed police on the grounds, which they hadn't done before. And the vehicle searches they performed helped to prevent the large quantities from making it into the festival.")

If the drug activity seems reminiscent of another regional music festival, that's because it is. In June of this year, 45-year-old Schwagstock founder Jimmy Tebeau reported to the Yankton Federal Penitentiary in South Dakota on charges of "maintaining a drug involved premises," following a four-year investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Also known as the "crack house statute," the law permitted the feds to seize Tebeau's rural Missouri property, Camp Zoe, 330 acres near the tiny town of Salem about 150 miles southwest of St. Louis, on which Tebeau and his family lived and hosted concerts headlined by his Grateful Dead tribute band, the Schwag.

Tebeau was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role, even though he was never witnessed selling or buying drugs.

Nate "Igor" Smith
Nate "Igor" Smith

See also:

He's Gone: As Schwagstock founder Jimmy Tebeau enters federal prison, should other music-festival organize worry about on-site drug use?


Shakedown Street: Schwag frontman Jimmy Tebeau says Camp Zoe is an idyllic campground for weekend hippie jam fests. Federal prosecutors beg to differ.

The law allows federal authorities to file charges against a property owner for facilitating drug sales that take place on his or her land. So Tebeau's case — the first of its kind against a festival promoter — could have serious repercussions on the music-festival landscape. One key distinction: Tebeau owned the land on which his concerts took place. The Gathering of the Juggalos takes place on property owned by Hardin County resident Tim York, who leases the land to Psychopathic Records and allows them to handle the details. Hardin County police do not enter the grounds unless they are called, citing the fact that their small-town force would be dramatically outnumbered if they were to do so.

Mike Wilson, a security guard tasked with standing at the Drug Bridge following the death of Collins, says he and fellow festival staffers tried to prevent dealers from entering the grounds. "We stopped a few people from bringing things in," he tells RFT. "One guy had a lot of drugs. He was a drug dealer or something and had no business being here."

Despite the drugs and lack of police presence, the Gathering functions better than one might expect, owing to an overwhelming shared sense of community. Being a juggalo consists of two unifying concepts: a love of Insane Clown Posse and a devotion to being yourself. The community is self-policing. If a fight breaks out during the festivities, onlookers will form a semicircle around the rowdy participants and begin chanting "Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly!" — a reminder that they're all in this together. Cooler heads tend to prevail, and those in conflict will either wind up shaking hands or going their separate ways. Last year attendees chased a thief off the grounds — after hotwiring his car, popping his trunk and finding numerous items that had been stolen from tents and other vehicles. The thief's car was eventually run over by a monster truck. A video of the incident is titled "Juggalo Justice." At the close of the video, the amped-up crowd reprises the "Fam-i-ly" chant.)

Knottier disagreements are addressed at Juggalo Night Court, a loosely organized and debaucherous event held in the wee hours that allows people to settle their differences with the help of a jury of their peers — i.e., whoever happens to be in attendance renders the verdict by cheering for either the plaintiff or the defendant after each has stated his or her case. One trial deals with the theft of a Psychopathic golf cart, another with a four-wheeler that caught fire while in the care of a man named "Amy." (The latter is decided preemptively in favor of the plaintiff, solely on the basis of the defendant's name.)

On this night, in a brightly illuminated tent reeking of burning cedar and marijuana, members of the jury sit on bales of hay in front of a judge named Upchuck Tha Clown to hear the matter of Monroe v. Chris F.

"I was drunk as shit last night, on the real. I fucked up and didn't know where to go, so I went to the car," proclaims an earnest and apologetic Chris F. He was supposed to meet his friend Monroe at Spazmatic, a small area with benches and a bar that serves Faygo, the off-brand soda of choice for juggalos.

"How are you damaged?" Upchuck Tha Clown, wearing a white barrister wig, inquires of Monroe.

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