“Raftapalooza:” Pushing Some Over the Edge


Colchester’s Police Chief Jen Morrison is trying to appease both sides of a popular summer event, happening July 23.  Raftapalooza began four years ago at Thayer Beach.  

“I went to events like this and I saw other lakes where they had events like this, and I always asked myself why we never did anything like this on Lake Champlain,” says organizer Jeremy Dewyea, who began the event with a small group of friends.

Dewyea says the first year drew about 500 people.  Last year had 1,200.  This year on the event Facebook page, 2,500 people have confirmed.  People who live near Thayer Beach are less than pleased.

“I fight with people all summer long who are trying to get to the beach over my property and this day, it’s like there’s nothing I can do,” says John Abry.

Abry and a handful of community members voiced concerns at a meeting Wednesday at Colchester Police Department.

“Last year, there were some issues around trash disposal, use of the couple porter potties that are down by the park,” says Morrison.

Chief Morrison adds this is not a town-sanctioned event and will not be welcomed back to Colchester in 2017.

“It’s gotten too big and it’s a strain on our resources,” says Morrison.

To make Raftapalooza 2016 as smooth as possible, Dewyea has extra trash bins lined up, designated parking at Colchester High School, and is partnering with local cab companies to transport people to the beach.  He’s also set up a Go Fund Me page to pay for Colchester police officers’ overtime.

“We’ve set up to raise about $5,000 and we have about $3,500 so far,” says Dewyea.  “We’re going to donate the money to the Town of Colchester so it can upgrade its marine division.”

Raftapalooza runs from noon to 6 p.m.  A band will play from 1 to 4 on a barge in the water.  Colchester police will have 10 out of their 28 officers there, along with the Coast Guard.

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