Last week, Grandoozy’s official social media accounts posted an announcement that the one year old festival would be taking a “hiatus” in 2019.
Grandoozy, produced by Superfly Productions (who also co-produce Bonnaroo and Outside Lands), made its debut in September 2018 at Overland Park Golf Course. The Festival was permitted for up to 80,000 attendees per day, but many vendors and volunteers estimated that the whole weekend only saw about 55,000. While, not a small number, it seems like much less than they had hoped.
From everything we have seen, it looks like it was a cool festival – with some unique Colorado elements. People who attended, seemed pretty pleased with the first year festival – which boasted a strong lineup, especially for a first year event. However, the fest’s location, in a residential area, and transportation issues – did cause some trouble. It sounds like the lower than expected attendance and location/transportation issues are what led to the hiatus. Hopefully, we will see Grandoozy back in 2020.
Grandoozy is not the first festival to have left us too soon. Let’s throw it back to 2017 for one of our favorites.
In 2017, the LTFL team was obsessed with a new, little festival – with a weird name. Karoondinha. This fest was supposed to take place at Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park in Pennsylvania. The festival promised some unique attractions: a wolf sanctuary, wildlife tours, and boat tours of the caverns. It also brought a strong lineup and relatively inexpensive camping options (and a really cool looking lineup poster).
Unfortunately, Karoondinha didn’t make it far enough to even put on the festival. One of the first public signs of trouble came in the form of ticket giveaways. For example, our crew found free tickets on an app called “Loudie” which offers free concert tickets to various events on a first come first served basis. With Karoondinha, they just kept being available. This was followed by vague rumblings and concerns. That eventually led to a slow-motion cancellation.
We now know that Karoondinha was plagued with a variety of problems, lot earlier than anyone knew. Several interviews given by the founders, indicated that expenses were out of control, especially for marketing services. As the festival got closer, vendors and agents began getting a sense that things weren’t quite right. The eventual cancellation was somewhat of a slow roll (at least publicly) as it appears that Karoondinha made efforts to deal with the behind the scenes stuff (vendors, artists etc.) first. News and promotion dropped off and then the website and twitter came down and the cancellation became public. This left ticket holders scrambling to figure out what was going on, and whether they would get a refund. Karoondinha sold many tickets through Eventbrite – and did eventually issue refunds through the platform.
Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival
In late November 2018, the festival community finally got official confirmation that the Okeechobee would not take place in 2019, something that had been rumored since September when the usual announcements weren’t made. That speculation was fueled when people found out that the festival’s promoter, Soundslinger LLC, laid off all its employees. Then on November 8 – close festival watchers obtained the notes from the Okeechobee County meeting where the festival normally would have sought approval for the festival – and did not do so. It still took about three more weeks for the official word to come down. At that point, Okeechobee announced a “fallow” year in 2019 (without further explanation) and indicated plans to return in 2020.
Okeechobee is a young festival, started in 2016 – but appears to have been relatively successful, selling out in each of its first two years. It is still unclear what led to the cancellation in 2019, after what appeared to be a successful 2018. Okeechobee had a great spot on an 800 acre parcel near Lake Okeechobee and was able to book big name acts and draw upwards of 30,000 a year. Hopefully this will only prove to be a one year hiatus. Interestingly, on January 9, Okeechobee Music Fest announced the return of its Jungle 51 all night Stage at the Orlando Fair.
FYF Festival (Los Angeles)
In May 2018, FYF Festival (from powerful festival promoter Goldenvoice) announced that the 2018 edition of the festival was cancelled. Their statement was pretty generic, and indicated an inability to provide an experience on par with fan expectations. Billboard later reported that the cancellation was fueled by low ticket sales.
FYF was started in 2004 – making it somewhat surprising to see it end so abruptly. Goldenvoice had invested in the festival in 2011 and then bought out more shares in 2017. This buyout was attributed, at least in part, to allegations of serious sexual harassment and other improper behavior by the festival’s founder, Sean Carlson. What makes this cancellation more disappointing, is that Carlson was replaced by a talent buyer who worked with Goldenvoice to put together a lineup for the festival that included major female performers. The festival received praise for booking more than 20 acts with female members. Ticket purchasers did receive refunds information. There has been no announcement about future plans.
Meadows Music and Arts Festival
2018 also proved to be the end (for now) for The Meadows Music and Arts Festival located at Citi Field in Queens. The Meadows started strong in 2016 as a two day festival and featured prominent artists such as Kanye West, The 1975 and The Weeknd. After a big first year, the festival expanded to three days in 2017 and put out a stacked lineup. LTFL attended in 2017 and wrote a favorable recap. Personally, it was super disappointing to see this one taken off the festival map.
Unlike many festivals, The Meadows did provide information about what happened. The festival explained that they had focused on moving to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the third year, but had not been able to get acceptable permitting worked out with NYC Parks in time.
It is normal for festivals to tell us in their cancellation announcements that the hiatus is only temporary. Often, this doesn’t prove to be the case, because once your brand takes a break – it is difficult to come back – especially from a marketing perspective. However, given how much we enjoyed this festival, I am going to ignore my reporting instincts and keep holding out hope we see it back better than ever in 2019 (or beyond).
These are just a few of the festivals that have left us too soon. What are some others you will miss? Tell us in the comments and share your experiences.
We lost another one yesterday afternoon. Houston’s In Bloom Festival will not return. The festival took place in March last year, and was a rebrand/had ties to the Free Press Summer Festival which began in 2009. The festival’s website and social media began displaying the messages on January 14, 2019.