Update: Club pulls plug on Toby Keith concert in Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND — A proposed concert featuring country music star Toby Keith at the Cumberland Fairgrounds has been canned before the Town Council could take up the matter next Monday.

Keith’s performance was proposed for July, pending approval of a mass gathering permit by the Town Council.

But Town Manager Bill Shane said Wednesday that the Cumberland Farmer’s Club, which would have hosted the concert, pulled the plug on the event, in part out of good faith toward fairgrounds neighbors.

The concert could have been challenged by residents as an impermissible use of the fairgrounds, Shane said, since it would not have occurred during the Cumberland County Fair. In the past, he said, smaller concerts have happened during the fair, but never as a stand-alone event – and never on the scale of a Keith concert.

When the proposal was first announced earlier this week, Shane said it wouldn’t be a stretch for 16,000 people to come to Keith’s show. Shane added that the council likely would have restricted attendance to closer to 10,000, a number the town has been prepared for, though hasn’t always seen, during past events.

Shane said rather than push this particular concert permit through, ordinance changes will be proposed within the next few months to allow a set number of non-fair concerts per year.

By discussing ordinance changes that would allow this sort of event in the future, Shane said, the public will be allowed more input and consensus could be reached prior to a specific proposal.

In the meantime, country music fans will have to wait a little bit longer before a major act comes to Cumberland.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.

This story was edited on May 14, 2009, to reflect that Shane meant to say a Keith concert could draw 16,000 people, not 60,000.