What’s Going on With Blue Ridge Rock Fest? Venue Responds

What’s occurring with Blue Ridge Rock Fest? The straightforward reply: A lot.

Final weekend’s canceled Blue Ridge Rock Fest has been a serious speaking level on social media this week, and it may be laborious to maintain up with what’s occurring and separate rumors from reality. Fortunately, quite a lot of native Virginia information sources have been reporting on the assorted complaints and rumors related to this yr’s competition.

This primarily facilities on allegations of poor circumstances and remedy of each attendees and competition workers.

Among the commonest complaints embrace unsanitary circumstances, lack of security procedures, inadequate transportation, extraordinarily lengthy wait instances to enter each the tenting grounds and competition, and lack of readability in whether or not attendees will probably be refunded for his or her tickets.

And though occasion organizers keep that the competition was canceled due to inclement climate, there have additionally been rumors that there might have been different elements at play, such because the occasion’s stagehands occurring strike.

Native information sources have seemed into lots of the considerations surrounding BRRF and offered some additional particulars and perception from numerous native officers and other people related to the occasion, which we now have damaged down beneath.

Venue Explains Why Climate Was Figuring out Issue For Cancelation

  • Why Was Blue Ridge Rock Competition Canceled?

At 5:23PM ET on Sept. 9, Blue Ridge Rock Competition introduced on Facebook that the rest of this yr’s occasion has been canceled, citing “continued extreme climate.”

On Sept. 7, a storm rolled by way of VIR (Virginia Worldwide Raceway) in Alton, Va., leading to a sudden and flawed evacuation of the competition grounds.

Attendees, the variety of which is claimed to vary from 45,000 to 60,000, had been instructed to hunt shelter in shuttle buses (which had been, once more, not almost nice sufficient in provide to satisfy demand) or within the automobile at their campsite. Nonetheless, as a way to rapidly get to the campsite, the shuttle bus (really helpful shelter) was the one technique of accommodated transport.

  • VIR President Kerrigan Smith Responds to Climate Cancelation

“After I have a look at the place the turning level was for everybody, it was this storm that got here out of nowhere. It was so violent and so quick without delay. It was the mass evacuation going so rapidly for thus many,” VIR President Kerrigan Smith tells WDBJ7, “It was upon you, there was no warning.”

Smith argues, “We’re not speaking in regards to the the situation of while you lookup on the sky. We’re speaking in regards to the mixture of the results of the climate that occurred, folks’s tools broken, tents destroyed. Then, the deterioration of the hearth lanes that we had in these areas to the place we weren’t going to have the ability to both get them out or entry them.”

Whereas emergency preparedness is a part of any competition’s planning, Smith additionally contends that the suddenness of the storm introduced such a problem that he appeared to doubt that any comparable competition would be capable of deal with such an evacuation.

“I problem anyone to current an out of doors facility that may home 40,000 folks at a second’s discover when unhealthy climate is available in. That’s what we bumped into. There’s an expectation that, ‘it is best to have had a shelter to place 40,000 folks below.’ Nicely, I’m positive we’ll all discuss that and have a look at that, however I don’t know that that’s a actuality that exists,” Smith claims.

  • Meteorologist Disputes Cancelation for Climate-Associated Causes

On TikTok, a WSLS meteorologist Chris Michaels notes Blue Ridge’s statement the place it’s mentioned that the cancelation was a “collective one, made by the occasion’s emergency administration staff composed of state and county officers, in addition to representatives from the venue.”

“I reached out to the Nationwide Climate Service. They mentioned they don’t counsel canceling occasions — that is simply not one thing that they do. However they did ship briefings to emergency administration,” says Michaels, who additionally reviewed “archived radar information” from Sept. 9 and 10 (Saturday and Sunday, respectively).

Michaels notes that there was little to no rain within the forecast for Saturday and that “scattered showers” had been anticipated on Sunday, however that the circumstances had been “nothing that you may’t play or sit by way of.”

Venue Addresses Stagehand Strike

  • When Did Staff Threaten to Strike?

The afternoon of Sept. 7, Blue Ridge issued statement informing attendees that the remainder of the day had been canceled and that a call in regards to the subsequent day’s “programming” could be made by 5PM ET.

WDBJ7 experiences that at 5PM that day, stagehands introduced a listing of calls for that have to be met or else they’d go on strike. These calls for are mentioned to have included extra water stations, showers, meals and safer buildings inside the subsequent 24 hours.

Blue Ridge Rock Competition publicly introduced your entire competition’s cancelation on their Facebook web page at 5:23PM ET.

  • Why Did Staff Threaten to Strike?

The outlet experiences that greater than 150 competition employees needed to share six porta-potties over the course of two weeks of preparation, in addition to whereas the fest was going down. In the meantime, it has been alleged that these lavatory amenities weren’t frequently maintained and had been cleaned out “each few days.”

  • What Have Stagehands + Different Personnel Mentioned?

One stagehand tells WDBJ7, “We had been actually dwelling round our personal filth, in our personal mess that we had been attempting to maintain contained to the trash cans however [there isn’t] a lot you are able to do particularly after a storm comes by way of and blows that stuff round.”

“All of it fell on deaf ears. Eighty p.c [of workers] had been passed by 7PM,” a stagehand laments, whereas a employee can also be quoted as saying, “They’re attempting to manage the narrative on us and attempting to bury the truth that we ended up strolling out as a result of this correlates with all these different festivals which have dropped the ball and put folks’s security in danger.”

Electric Callboy tour supervisor and YouTuber/Twitch streamer Tank the Tech recollected his expertise behind the scenes in a 30-plus-minute video, outlining the myriad of causes he felt this yr’s occasion was “unsafe,” noting the labor scarcity, current hazard to crew members and common disorganization and confusion surrounding many logistics points.

  • Did VIR Know In regards to the Strike Earlier than the Cancelation?

Smith contends that VIR had no data of this strike prior to creating the choice to cancel the remainder of the occasion.

Venue Responds to Claims of Overwhelming Capability

  • How Many Individuals Attended Blue Ridge Rock Competition?

WDBJ7 experiences that Blue Ridge Rock competition knowledgeable the sheriff’s workplace that 45,000 tickets had been offered, however the sheriff’s workplace places the estimate between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees.

In August, Blue Ridge Rock Competition shared an announcement with followers relating to the enhancements they can count on on the 2023 competition, promising that the shuttle scarcity skilled in every of the 2 years prior wouldn’t be a difficulty once more. The fest additionally acknowledged that they’d “greater than doubled” the tenting capability. Explaining how this elevated capability wouldn’t end in extra shuttle issues, they mentioned, “This enables way more followers to not have to day park and use buses — however now merely tenting and parking straight on-site on the competition.”

  • What Was the Capability of the Competition?

VIR’s Smith tells WDBJ7 that there was really no set capability because the competition grounds account for roughly 1,300 acres.

  • VIR President Kerrigan Smith Responds to Blue Ridge Capability

“As an off-the-cuff bystander taking a look at floor degree, I used to be like, ‘wow, this does really feel completely different.’ After I have a look at the drone pictures and the place folks had been scattered out, it seems to be very in keeping with what has been talked about and marketed. I haven’t felt that there was an enormous overselling of tickets,” Smith argues.

Violations Uncovered by Well being Division

The Virginia Division of Well being was on-site at this yr’s Blue Ridge Rock Competition and uncovered an unspecified quantity of well being violations. Brookie Crawford, a spokesperson for the Southside Well being District spoke with the Danville Register and Bee about Well being Division’s position in all of it, whereas additionally confirming, “No, the Virginia Division of Well being didn’t shut down the Blue Ridge Rock Competition.”

Environmental well being supervisor for Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside well being districts Wesley T. Marshall informs the outlet, “We instructed the occasion organizers that we [the Virginia Department of Health] had been there to help them in public well being for no matter resolution they made.”

Crawford verified that violations at Blue Ridge Rock Competition had been discovered “round sanitary circumstances” and that complaints “in regards to the port-a-jons and the provision of ingesting water” had been additionally fielded. It was not specified precisely what number of of those violations had been discovered.

Photos shared online by attendees present unattended piles of trash round rubbish cans, overflowing and excrement-covered porta-potties, in depth traces to entry a ingesting water station and different states of disrepair on the competition.

Will Blue Ridge Rock Fest Problem Refunds?

On Sept. 9, as a part of the cancelation announcement, Blue Ridge Rock Competition acknowledged, “We’re working diligently to supply refund particulars and can share that info early this week when enterprise re-opens.”

The one update straight from the fest on this entrance got here on Sept. 12 the place it was mentioned, “We’re at present in in depth discussions with our ticketing firm and companions. We ask for a bit extra of your persistence as we work to offer you a decision.

Smith tells WDBJ7 he hopes the competition will discover a decision.

WRIC experiences that ticket vendor Etix is ready to verify particulars with Blue Ridge Rock Competition earlier than probably issuing refunds.

An Etix support page notes, “All ticketed occasions are to be held no matter climate circumstances. Generally climate or different outdoors concerns make the efficiency inconceivable to finish. In such cases, the occasion venue or the occasion promoter are charged with making the ultimate dedication of cancellation and refund availability.”

The competition additionally cautions ticketholders that refunds won’t be issued for weather-related causes.

It does seem, in accordance with reports, that some competition goers had been capable of dispute tickets with their banks as soon as the competition was canceled halfway by way of.

  • Lawyer Responds to Cancelation + How you can Search a Refund

A Virginia lawyer on TikTok (who went to final yr’s Blue Ridge Rock Competition)

“If you happen to had been there on a one-day move, it will price you much more to get any kind of [lawsuit] going to get that again than it will be to simply let it go. I feel the competition organizers know this and that is why I extremely encourage contacting the Virginia Legal professional Basic,” she says, additionally directing folks to contact the Shopper Safety Hotline (1-800-552-9963 or, if calling from outdoors the Richmond, Va. space, 804-786-2042).

In line with a report from WSLS (10 Information), the Virginia Legal professional Basic’s workplace is working by way of complaints relating to the competition.

In an e-mail to the information station, a consultant for Legal professional Basic Jason Miyares’ workplace responded saying, “Sure, our Shopper Safety part has acquired complaints and are working to resolve them or ship the suitable company.”

Has Blue Ridge Rock Competition Organizer Jonathan Slye Mentioned Something?

In a 2021 post addressing a myriad of fan complains from the inaugural Blue Ridge Rock Competition, Jonathan Slye launched himself because the fest’s CEO.

In an e-mail reply to WSLS, Slye seemingly distanced himself because the face of the fest, contending his position is proscribed to expertise shopping for and advertising and marketing.

“Other than expertise shopping for, I additionally am the first handler of the advertising and marketing finished to advertise the Competition every year. Because the creator of Blue Ridge and the ‘Competition Created By The Followers’ idea, my expertise shopping for and advertising and marketing place is much extra public-facing than it’s with different Festivals, which causes confusion about my position,” Slye tells WSLS in what’s the solely printed portion of his e-mail.

Will Blue Ridge Rock Competition Return in 2024?

Blue Ridge Rock Competition is at present pre-selling tickets for 2024’s occasion. The competition at present has a multi-year contract with VIR, which was signed earlier this yr in April.

“If it’s not going to be higher, we’re not going to try this identical occasion once more. If it’s not going to be one thing completely different the place we all know that we will assault a few of these issues and deal with them, we’re not going to go forward and proceed with that,” VIR’s Smith says.

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