Patrons take to social media, question Pilgrimage infrastructure in wake of festival cancellation

Patrons take to social media, question Pilgrimage infrastructure in wake of festival cancellation

PHOTO: Rain poured heavily on Sunday morning after the cancellation of the day’s performers was announced./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.

The announcement came on the heels of canceled performances from Lionel Richie, Jack White, Hozier and others the night before after a thunderstorm first caused an evacuation.

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 popular NashSevereWx account reported two inches of rain in the Franklin area had accumulated over a 12-hour period, while more storms moved in during the morning and late afternoon Sunday.

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.

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.

One woman said she was told she, her boyfriend and their five-year-old daughter “would die” if they didn’t evacuate.

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.

“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.

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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