The 2015 festival season, stretching into 2016, will be remembered for two distinctly new trends. The first one is interesting, as festivals are competing to unveil complete or nearly complete lineups months and months in advance. It began when Hangout first splashed their lineup all over the net, seven months before the event. That opened the floodgates. In quick order, most other major festivals followed suit. This is largely regarded as a positive trend, although it does take a bit of intrigue and speculation out of the equation. It certainly makes your planning easier, however.
That trend pales, however, in comparison to the parade of festival cancellations. We were struck first with the cancellation of the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival. It had moved from mid-November to the beginning of October to avoid the Suwannee Hulaween effect, but eventually it succumbed.
The mid-October Phases of the Moon Festival disappeared on short notice and with plenty of speculation to stoke the fires. (Several were rained out at the beginning of October due to hellacious rains and the potential of a hurricane in the vicinity — they don’t count here).
More recently, we heard the sad news that the Gathering of the Vibes organizers were taking a deserved break after 20 years in the festival business sitting 2016 out, and we must remember that this IS a business. We go to enjoy ourselves and often don’t pay attention to the enormous infrastructure required to pull off such events.
And now Wakarusa. Its organizers, Pipeline Productions, had merged with those of the aforementioned Phases of the Moon folks. Here is the text of the letter posted today on their Facebook page:
“It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you that Wakarusa will take 2016 off.
#Wakarusa has been a labor of love for all of us these last twelve years. We have been defiantly independent and unique since our inception. Together we created a magical 5 day event that stood out from the rest. We’ve taken great pride in what we’ve created with you and for you over the last decade plus. The Waka community (friends, family, fans, musicians, artists, performers, volunteers, staff) has really been the heart and soul of what Wakarusa IS. This community shares a natural passion for what is truly genuine. Wakarusa is wonderfully original – it is organic, mystical and always marvelously weird, and like Wakarusa, you too are decidedly different and perfectly magnificent.
As such, you deserve to know the principal reason behind our hiatus:
Wakarusa was significantly damaged by partners claiming to share our vision. Sadly, they lied. They are being dealt with appropriately through the legal system. Further, we have found that the universe is often much more effective in dealing with these perpetrators than the legal system. Regardless, it is our sincere hope and anticipation that what we have built together – we will once again enjoy on our beloved and magical mountain.
For now, we shall dust ourselves off. We must take time to recharge our faith and our energy. Passionate people do not throw in the towel because of a bump in the road. We look brightly toward the future. We will bring more music and more art and many more wickedly unrivaled memories. We know the world is a better place when there is more music and more love.
Our scrape with the unsavory has lead us to realize what is most important to us, which is all of YOU (you and you… and you too). So in our brief absence, please stay in touch and look out for each other. Take special care to really nurture what is most important in each of your lives. There is simply too much to be down or discouraged about in this world. Be the beacon of joy and hope – we need more of that in this world. So now we do ask that you share your positive energy with us. We’ll use it as our strength and inspiration to create an even better WAKA experience that is ever more magical. With your help, we will bring Wakarusa back to Mulberry Mountain.
Until then, be safe, spread your positivity and your light and remember to always remain marvelously weird!”
The silver lining in the gray cloud is that Waka might be back for 2017. And GoTV 2017 looks even more promising. Sadly, we’ll probably never see Bear Creek again. And concerns have been raised about Purple Hatter’s Ball being pushed six weeks later into the season, and a week after Bonnaroo.
Let’s just hope and pray that no more festivals fall by the wayside. It would be especially sad to see some of the wonderful smaller “mom and pop” fests drown in the wash of the huge corporate events.