PHOTO: Rain poured heavily on Sunday morning after the cancellation of the day’s performers was announced./Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
The cancellation of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on its second day provoked a swift backlash from some social media users, who complained communications were lacking.
Festival organizers announced the cancellation of the final day just before 9 a.m. Sunday, citing weather and infrastructure concerns from the City of Franklin and emergency management services.
“Due to the unsafe conditions at the park & the threat of inclement weather, Deputy Fire Chief Todd Horton has declared that the 9/23 event has been cancelled. Safety is our first priority,” was tweeted both from Pilgrimage and City of Franklin accounts.
“While the cancelations [sic] of Pilgrimage’s Saturday afternoon and Sunday programming due to inclement and dangerous weather including overall site safety conditions is disappointing for everyone, we fully support the decision made by Chief Todd Horton and the City of Franklin,” said the festival organizers in a later release.
Attendees trudged out through the mud, while some waited two hours, corralled in the venue’s parking lot until the night was officially called off.
A Franklin Police officer assisting with traffic on Liberty Pike was struck by a car Saturday night, according to public information officer Lt. Charles Warner.
“He was transported to Williamson Medical by ambulance where he was treated and released,” Warner wrote in an email. “He was banged up, but we are thankful that he was not seriously injured.”
Pilgrimage staff also reported lightning in the area, with 69 strikes inside the eight-mile safety perimeter, as cause for the shutdown on Saturday night.
The Park, about a mile from downtown Franklin, also lies along the Harpeth River, which has been known to overflow its banks with little provocation.
City of Franklin Communications Manager Milissa Reierson updated the media on Sunday night, sharing that parking spaces for 10,000 vehicles had been eliminated due to on site conditions.
— Brooke Wanser (@Bwanser_writes) September 23, 2018
At Louisville’s Bourbon and Beyond festival this weekend, city staff also shut down the event due to similar weather concerns. Festival organizers there took to Twitter to issue an apology and offer a full refund on single-day tickets.
Pilgrimage organizers first posted about a refund in the morning. By 8 p.m. Sunday, no further update on a refund had been released.
Dozens unleashed their fury upon festival organizers on social media.
All family upset how today was handled. Were told to find shelter onsite (which we did), then made to evacuate a short time later with small children in tow. Poor plan in place when bad weather was expected all week. “rain or shine” show? #refund #pilgrimage #dotherightthing
— Wimberley (@gingerwimberley) September 23, 2018
Everything was really good until the rain debacle. Rain or shine tickets should be RAIN OR SHINE!! No refund = no trip back! #BushLeague
— Justin Brashear (@jbbrashea) September 23, 2018
The decision to cancel isn’t the issue. We get that. It’s how volunteers treated us and how little effort you put into providing timely and accurate info.
— Bradley Stringfield (@official_bks) September 23, 2018
One woman said she was told she, her boyfriend and their five-year-old daughter “would die” if they didn’t evacuate.
Did your security staff “have to” tell a tent of people (including my 5 year old daughter) that they were all going to die if they stayed? That’s exactly what was needed, security inciting panic. Please let us know when we should be expecting refunds, thank you.
— Lindsey Hall (@Linksers) September 23, 2018
While attempting to shelter inside the festival before the rain began, Lindsey Hall from Cincinnati says a festival volunteer approached their tent, yelling, “If you stay, here you’re all going to die!” which left her daughter “inconsolable.”
“I am just truly disappointed by how it was handled. I wasn’t expecting to say ‘it’s okay, I promise you aren’t going to die today,’ to my daughter,” Hall told the Home Page.
But others posted positive messages, thanking the festival staff and city emergency services for acting on safety concerns.
Do only negative people make posts these days? Wow. Thanks Pilgrimage, we had a great time yesterday. And all 3 years before that when the weather cooperated. I’m so sad it has to be cancelled today. See ya next year!
— Lori (@lhealey55) September 23, 2018
“This decision is made based in the interest of protecting the safety of patrons and citizens,” said Reierson in her release. “Pilgrimage fully supports this collaborative decision by the City to evacuate on Saturday and cancel the festival for Sunday.”
Visit @Bwanser_writes for live Tweets on the situation.