A Free Snoop Dogg Concert in a Small Oregon Town Caused Police to Panic, and May Lead to Fines For Organizers

Police feared mayhem. It may have been an overreaction.

A small town in eastern Oregon got a surprise visit from Snoop Dogg on Saturday—and the local cops weren't thrilled.

The hip-hop icon traveled to Ontario, Ore., population 11,009, to celebrate the opening of a cannabis retail shop called Hotbox Farms. And his free, last-minute performance sparked alarm among local law enforcement, who initiated "major incident response protocol," the Malheur Enterprise reported Friday. 

Hotbox's owner, who said he booked the big-name performer thanks to promoters he knows, put out the announcement for the concert on Friday, and the news quickly went viral.

Police feared mayhem. The department put two crews on overtime to monitor the crowd and placed fire and medical responders at the venue—a large empty lot next to the dispensary.

That may have been an overreaction, but Malheur Enterprise reported today that the Ontario Police Department is considering fining Hotbox for failing to obtain proper event permits.

The department estimated that around 3,000 people showed up to the free concert (most of whom traveled from Idaho) and officers responded to "complaints of fights in parking lots, traffic collisions, and ingestion of marijuana and alcohol in public place." One person was arrested for drunk driving after the event.

"In my professional opinion, Hot Box Inc., placed our local community in jeopardy, due to their decision to operate this scale of event without any prior safety planning with local officials, operating without the proper permits (Even after their verbal request was denied late Friday afternoon), and without insuring that adequate public safety resources to insure public safety were available," police chief Steven Romero said in a statement.

Other business owners told Malheur Enterprise they were thrilled with the unexpected uptick in sales that the Snoop Dogg show brought.

Fans on social media also expressed their delight over the rapper putting the small town on the map.

Ontario Police and Meland, Hotbox's owner, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.