Why Was LaconiaFest Such a Fantastic Failure?
The first year of the music festival at Laconia's Bike Week didn't go quite as planned and a lot of people are angry.
Get your pointing fingers out because "The Blame Game" is in full swing after a bike week music festival ended in disaster that people should have seen coming.
The first annual LaconiaFest promised nine days of rock n' roll and huge crowds when it arrived last Sunday during Laconia Bike Week. The lack of the interest and poor planning turned this epic attempt into an epic failure.
Attendance to headliners like Steven Tyler, Bret Michaels and Ted Nugent was poor at best with only a few thousand showing up. That is FAR below the 33,000 crowd that the venue was licensed for.
Things got so desperate that they began selling tickets for less than the cost of a beer.
Things were not going well for LaconiaFest, but you wouldn't have known that if you were on their Facebook page on Thursday. Everything is great! Nothing to see here folks!
Eventually they cancelled the big Saturday show, which was a nice kick in the face to excited concertgoers who paid far more than five dollars. It was a bigger blow to the many musicians and crew members who were left high and dry without pay. On top of that, some of them lost thousands of dollars from travel and merchandise expenses.
So what happened?
Staff at the festival said that event organizers left earlier in the week and many bands cancelled their performances that day. LaconiaFest's Facebook page posted a statement regarding the cancellation Saturday morning.
Despite news reports, we do not know what happened other than we had reports that The City of Laconia would shut down the venue in the absence of Law Enforcement and Fire Department officuals (sic) to oversee safety at the festival.
When city did not give any indication that we were being ordered to cease our scheduled plans, and Law Enforcement and Fire Officials were present to ensure compliance of codes, a group of LaconiaFest staff and organizers made the decision to continue as scheduled.
"Transportation issues" was cited as a reason for bands not showing up, according to the promoter, and bad weather might have kept crowds away.
The concert promoter is pointing fingers at the town for the required staffing and the town is pointing even more fingers right back. Now those fingers are pointing to the town's wallet because LaconiaFest owes $309,830 for police, fire and code inspection but has only paid $35,000 of that as of June 15.
Despite the collapse of the music festival around them, many unpaid staff members stayed on board. They turned the venue into a paid parking lot and opened up the VIP section for drinks and music. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the stage, grounds and security crews who have not been paid for their work. The fundraising page also claims the festival's VIP chef was left "completely unpaid."
Now I have never run a music festival, but it would seem to me that booking over a hundred acts, including some big names, might be a bad idea for the first attempt. It seems like the people behind LaconiaFest were in over their heads on this one.