Sawgrass Rebellion Too Big For Collier County Fairgrounds

by Danny E. Meek, Esquire

PFNS, Naples, FL - 8/23/02 - The Collier County Fairgrounds on the outskirts of Naples,
Florida can hold rodeos, boat shows, Latin music festivals, rock music
festivals, country music festivals and, obviously, huge crowds of people,
machinery, and animals for the yearly county fair.

However, the facility is apparently not big enough to hold the members of
"The Sawgrass Rebellion."

The Sawgrass Rebellion, which now includes over seven hundred groups
pledging their support, is an umbrella organization founded to protect the
property rights of South Florida residents through legislation, litigation,
and public education. A national forum and property rights rally in support
of the Rebellion will include at least four caravans from across the United
States, which will converge at Naples on October 17 and 18. On October 19
the participants will caravan across the Everglades to Homestead, Florida.
The Rebellion reflects growing opposition to unlawful and unwarranted taking
of property by local, state, and federal governments and agencies.

Don Lester of Naples is one of the local organizers of the event. He said
that for more than six weeks he had been negotiating with Collier County
Fair Manager Ann Ward to hold the event at the Collier County Fairgrounds
and thought there were only a few minor details to resolve. Lester said he
talked with fairground officials and the fire marshal, and secured
agreements for the necessary liability insurance to conduct the event.

"At four P.M. on Monday, August 19, I thought we had a deal. Two days later,
I received a call around noon and was told that it was a no go," explained a
bewildered Lester.

Lester said he then contacted Lou Hoegsted, president of the Collier County
Fair Board. Hoegsted verified that the Executive Committee of the Board had
denied the request for the event.

"At first he (Hoegsted) said that he didn't have enough people to make it
go. Then he said that the people were scheduled to be on vacation during
that time frame," explained Lester, who said he offered to pay for
additional workers or security to help advance the rally.

"Finally Hoegsted told me that it was just too big - that there were going
to be too many people," stated Lester. "He said that it was just too big and
there would be a lot of people from out of town we don't know and are not
letting in there."

When contacted for an interview to discuss the proposed rally and
negotiations, Hoegsted responded with a voice mail message. "I have no
comment," Hoegsted said in the voice mail. "The only comment that I have is
that The Sawgrass Rebellion never had a contract with the Collier County

Additional attempts to speak with Hoegsted were unsuccessful.

The Paragon Foundation of Alamogordo, New Mexico recently agreed to help
South Florida residents in their stand against "unwarranted taking" of their
properties. Paragon is the largest property rights advocate group in the
United States.

"It doesn't really surprise me," said Jay Walley, a Paragon volunteer who is
in South Florida to assist The Sawgrass Rebellion. "I fully expect 20,000 to
30,000 people to attend this event. I think it may be the largest property
rights rally ever staged in the United States." Walley said The Sawgrass
Rebellion is gaining momentum and support daily and he believes that county
officials simply think that the event outgrew the venue.

"It is much bigger that they expected," said Walley. "It is a groundswell of
support from landowners, farmers, and the common folk who have decided that
they have had enough and are fighting back together in big numbers."

According to Ward, the fairgrounds are owned by Collier County and leased
for fifty years to the Fair Board. The Fair Board consists of twenty
members, with officers elected each year. Ward said the grounds cover
approximately eighty acres and the largest event she could recall was the
Latin Music Festival with 3,000 to 4,000 in attendance. "It certainly
couldn't hold 10,000 or 20,000 people in one day," she said.

When Ward was told that the information was for background on a story about
The Sawgrass Rebellion, she said she had been told "not to talk about that
issue." She directed further inquiries to Fair Board attorney Toni A. Horne
of Naples.


PFNS is a public service of the Paragon Foundation, Alamogordo, NM

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]


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