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Reggae on the River (locally known as simply Reggae) is a reggae festival that is held annually on the first weekend in August in Humboldt County, California. It began in 1983 as a benefit for the Mateel Community Center, a nonprofit for southern Humboldt County. In that year the center's community hall in Garberville was burned down by an arsonist, and the center charged then-board member Carol Bruno with organizing the festival to raise money for a new hall. It was held at French's Camp (a property located on a bend in the Eel River near Piercy, California) every year until 2006 when financial issues forced the festival to be relocated in subsequent years.
The 2006 concert brought in far less money than previous shows had, or that was estimated. Due to the move to a new site and the expenses incurred in removing equipment from the old location, the Mateel center saw no revenue from the 2006 event. In 2007, the festival was canceled in the wake of a legal battle between the Mateel Community Center, People Productions (the company started by Carol Bruno after leaving her position at the Mateel), and Tom Dimmick, the owner of the property which hosted the festival in 2006. The dispute centered on revenues, with the Mateel questioning why profits estimated by People Productions did not materialize, why there was a discrepancy between the number of tickets approved and reported attendance and $300,000 in cash expenditures with no receipts. In the wake of the cancellation of Reggae on the River, People Productions in conjunction with Tom Dimmick produced their own reggae concert at Dimmick Ranch, which was called "Reggae Rising" and took place at Dimmick Ranch on the usual first weekend in August.
Since 2008 the festival has occurred at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area, in Benbow, Calif., 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) of Eel River shoreline, meadows and redwood groves. The park consists of campsites and a large day-use picnic area. Hiking, picnicking and camping are popular summer time activities, while salmon and steelhead fishing are popular in the winter. In 2013, Reggae on the River returned to its original location at French's Camp and its original time, the first weekend of August.