Crews set up the stage for a free concert planned for Saturday night as Hotbox Farms opens its east Ontario location. Rapper Snoop Dogg is scheduled to perform during the show on Saturday, Oct. 5. (Pat Caldwell/The Enterprise)
UPDATE: Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero Saturday afternoon advised people to avoid east Ontario later today because of the Snoop Dogg event. Romero said authorities were caught off guard on Friday with word of a major entertainer providing a free concert and had no time to plan for such an event. Area businesses and hotels are making their own plans to deal with a potential influx of people, Romero said, and at this point his agency intends to only monitor the Hotbox event.
UPDATE 2:30 P.M. SATURDAY: Ontario Fire Chief Terry Leighton said Saturday afternoon that fire and medic crews will be staged to cover the fireworks show and for emergency response. He said he has put on two extra crews on overtime in anticipation of a large crowd. He said promoters have told him to expect a "very large" fireworks show Saturday night.
UPDATE: 3:30 P.M. SATURDAY: Steven Meland, one of the owners of Hotbox, said . he doesn't have an estimate of how many people will appear for the grand opening event Saturday, but expects to draw primarily from eastern Oregon and Boise. "Hotbox Farms does it all for the community. We just enjoy throwing the community events," Meland said in an interview. He said Snoop Dogg's appearance was arranged on short notice through promoters that Meland said he knows. "He normally wouldn't event take a gig at a place like Ontario. He usually goes for higher population areas."
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Ontario promises to face a Saturday unlike anything before as the nationally acclaimed rapper Snoop Dogg comes to town to help open a new marijuana dispensary.
The singer and actor is scheduled to perform live at 7 p.m. as part of the grand opening party for Hotbox Farms’ new dispensary at 325 N.E. Goodfellow St. N.E. The free event, which includes a beer party and late-night fireworks, will take place on an unimproved lot next to the dispensary.
Word that a big-name star like Snoop Doog was coming to Malheur County rocketed across the internet on Friday as media across the Northwest reported the development.
The news caught Ontario city officials by surprise, and Ontario police officials said they were activating their “major incident response protocol.”
The city said the community can expect “high levels of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, parking scarcity in surrounding area, elevated noise, and congregation of large crowds throughout the area.”
Hotbox Farms has been a key player in Ontario’s marijuana industry from the start, helping campaign in 2018 to successfully repeal Ontario’s ban on recreational marijuana sales.
The business, owned by Steve Meland and Jeremy Breton, has operated a retail store north of Ontario in Huntington.
The new outlet is in eastern Ontario just north of the Best Western Inn and adjacent to the shopping center anchored by Home Depot.
According to the Facebook page for Hotbox, Saturday’s grand opening event starts at 4:20 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. Snoop Dogg is scheduled to perform several songs. Jim Belushi, a cannabis farmer and actor, also is scheduled to appear.
Snoop Dogg, 47, of Long Beach, Calif., has been a leader in hip-hop.
He was born Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. According to the online site The Biography.com, his nickname came from his mom, who thought her little boy resembled the Peanuts character Snoopy.
He was discovered and promoted by Rapper Dr. Dre and went on to worldwide fame with albums including “Doggystyle” and “Tha Doggfather.” His 17th album “I Wanna Thank Me” was released in August. He’s also acted in films and starred with his wife and kids in his own reality TV show.
Notoriety came early with convictions in the 1990s on cocaine possession and gun possession charges. He was acquitted in a gang-related murder case in 1996.
Just this week, he stirred controversy when his performance during a University of Kansas basketball kickoff event included a money-launching gun and pole dancers, counter to the family atmosphere that had been promised at the game.
He’s been a supporter of and investor in the cannabis industry, launching a trade website called Merry Jane and his own pot brand – Leafs by Snoop – in 2015.
Ontario city officials Friday evening said in a statement Friday evening that the police agency didn’t know about the major event until earlier that day. Meland later met with Police Chief Steven Romero and Dan Cummings, Ontario city planning director, to review the event.
The city’s statement said Hotbox had applied for the necessary city permits for fireworks, food catering and a beer garden but “has not been granted” a special events permit or a noise variance.
The release didn’t say whether those would be granted or what actions the city would take if the event didn’t comply with city regulations. City officials said Saturday, however, that they had no plans to cancel the event for lack of permits.
Ontario city law requires a special permit for "any event which involves activity that is out of the normal range of activities typically occurring in the area where the event is supposed to take place, and that places an additional demand on city services" and includes "concerts" as a special event.
The city law requires such permits to be sought 15 days before the event. Violators can be fined up to $1,000.
Reporters Yadira Lopez and Pat Caldwell provided reporting as did Kristine deLeon.