Attorney General Phil Weiser has issued a cease-and-desist order against Live Entertainment, run by promoter Carlos Barkleys of Vail, to prevent the company from hosting any more large gatherings in Colorado that exceed state orders limiting the size of outdoor events.
Barkleys now says he will comply with the state's capacity limits.
The order — dated Tuesday — comes after the company hosted a bull-riding competition and concert in Weld County on Sunday that drew at least 4,000 patrons, without requiring masks, social distancing or any other COVID-19 related precautions.
The same company hosted a similar event in Agate in June that drew at least 2,000 people and resulted in a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Elbert County Department of Public Health. That department issued a cease-and-desist against the company to prevent the event last Sunday from being hosted at the same site in Agate. It then wound up in Hudson.
The state's Department of Public Health and Environment knew about the event on Friday — Colorado Politics asked what, if anything, they intended to do about it, but the agency took no action prior to Sunday's event.
The cease-and-desist order says the company is in direct violation of executive orders and public health orders limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 175 people. If the company is violating those orders, "you are directed to immediately cease hosting events that violate the terms of the executive order ... or to otherwise bring those events into compliance with the orders."
The Attorney General set a deadline of August 3 at 9 a.m. to confirm that the company will comply with the executive and public health orders or to discuss their plans to do so.
The company's Facebook page lists several upcoming events around the state, including a concert at the Travelodge in Grand Junction on August 14 and another bull-riding competition in Agate on August 15.
Sunday's event, held on private property near Hudson, drew thousands, clogged area roads for hours, and led to at least one assault and an EMS call from Hudson Fire. A video shared with Colorado Politics on Tuesday showed the large crowd dancing shoulder to shoulder and drinking, and no one wore masks.
COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people of color, including Latinos. The event, a Mexican rodeo with Spanish-language performers, is one of many from the promoter that have been marketed to a young, Latino audience.
After initially declining to respond via text, Barkleys called Colorado Politics and talked for several minutes about the order. He said he will comply with the state order, and pointed out that he had hosted another outdoor event in Pierce, just north of Greeley, the day before the Sunday event that also drew an audience far in excess of the state's 175-person limit.
He said he has event security personnel who rely on that income throughout the year and that he's trying to make a living for those families and without state assistance, including from unemployment insurance.
He then texted that his company creates over 1,000 job positions in the state of Colorado year round. "[P]eople are not working, our industry has been left out completely by the government. People have to work do something to survive. Right now opportunity's [sic] are very limited out there."