A popular electronic dance music festival in Ontario was denied permission to hold a special event by the local council just weeks before it was due to be held. Many ticket holders demanded answers and requested refunds.
The Ever After Festival, a three-day event, is set to kick off on August 12 and thousands of people await its long-awaited return.
The festival, scheduled for its sixth year this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced in March that it had moved venues from Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario to Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro. Medonte, a commune north of Barrie.
But last week the local council said it would not issue special permits for events due to concerns about the music festival’s operational planning. On Thursday, exactly a week after the council’s decision, organizers took to social media to inform ticket holders that they will be appealing the decision.
“We are aware of the refusal of authorization for special events at this time by the Oro-Medonte Municipality meeting last week,” Ever After Festival said in a tweet on Thursday.
“However, there is an appeal process that we are currently going through, as well as consideration of other options to ensure the EAMF takes place in 2022.”
A community spokesman told CBC Toronto there was no appeals process Thursday.
The festival, meanwhile, said it would “proceed as planned” and provide updates as soon as it has more information.
CBC Toronto reached out to Ever After Festival but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Ticket holders are demanding refunds
The news has left many people confused and disappointed including Cyla Daniels who paid for her 2019 ticket and was waiting to go.
“Two weeks ago and they haven’t even given us an opportunity to get a refund … they really aren’t telling us anything,” Daniels told CBC Toronto. “I skipped a lot of concerts this summer because I wanted to dedicate my summer to Ever After.”
Daniels has been attending the music festival with her group of friends since 2015.
“It’s really frustrating … we go every year. We all. We’re going together,” she said.
“We used to go with my only friend who actually passed away, so now we’re going in his memory.”
In a report submitted to the Oro-Medonte council on July 25, municipality officials recommended that the council not issue a special event permit for the Ever After festival, citing concerns by the agencies involved about safety and operational planning of the music festival.
During the special council meeting, Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said the third-party organizers must present an operational plan that meets the needs and comfort level of the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission, the Simcoe County Paramedic and the Simcoe Health Unit of Muskoka District.
“I don’t see time to fix these problems,” Hughes said.
“Our top priority must be to foster a safer community,” Coun said. Shawn Scott added.
“The reports coming from the OPP, the Simcoe District Health Unit, the AGCO, our own EMS, the local council… it’s clear that all of these bodies don’t support it.”
“Looks like there will be a never after”
Moon Newhook lives in Kitchener and has been attending the festival with her daughter since 2016.
Newhook, a pharmacy technician, said it was difficult for her and her daughter, who works as a nurse, to take time off, but despite the change in venue they have made sure the August festival is planned in advance.
“Everything is in the air. Everything is on hold. I don’t know if I need to cancel my hotel,” Newhook said.
“I am angry. I’m frustrated and angry. It’s a lot of mixed feelings.”
With more than $3,000 spent on VIP tickets and accommodations, Newhook said the festival should have notified ticket holders earlier.
“Right now it looks like it will never be.”
Kevin Theriault, who lives in Dartmouth, NS, bought his ticket to attend the festival in May.
Theriault said he spent nearly $2,000 on the ticket, rental car, flights and accommodations.
“It was a little bit disappointing to know that basically it’s not happening,” Theriault said.
“Everyone really wanted to go. It’s hard to find these kinds of events, especially where I’m from, they just don’t happen here and then they’re pretty rare, even in Ontario.”