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Erik Burgess, Published December 04 2012

Promoter: Raves over at Johnson’s Barn

ARTHUR, N.D. – Johnson’s Barn has seen its last rave, the owner and promoter confirmed Tuesday.

The promoter of the rave events at the popular rural venue here also lashed out at law enforcement, saying the hard work he put into stopping drug use at his shows is squandered now that the sheriff’s office has refused to provide security, effectively ending the raves that have been held at the barn since September 2008.

“It almost feels like a witch hunt, like they don’t want me to do this anymore,” Seth Holden told The Forum on Tuesday night. “Why now after all the work that we’ve done together, between myself and the sheriff’s department, to try to curb these arrests?”

Thirteen people were arrested at a rave at the venue on Saturday, eight of them for marijuana and three for the narcotics Vyvanse and diazepam. Other arrests were made for minors consuming alcohol.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office, which has been providing security for shows at the barn since the ’50s, said they would no longer police the raves due to its “drug culture.”

But Holden said he had been working with sheriff officials to eliminate drug arrests at his shows. Drug use at the raves had been going down, he said, and dangerous hallucinogenic drugs often associated with raves were not being used at all.

“They feel that these shows are the reasons drugs are in this town, and that’s not the case,” Holden said. “They’re not growing them out at Johnson’s Barn. They’re coming from Fargo.”

Capt. Mitch Burris said following state law, the venue could hire private security and still host the raves, but Holden and barn owner Brian Johnson said that would not happen.

“We only have the deputies do security. We never have private security,” Johnson said.

For Holden, the large majority of rave attendees who didn’t use drugs are the ones losing out in the end.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this, because there’s a lot of kids out there that don’t use (drugs) and enjoy the music,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518