HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Both staff and attendees are questioning the Blue Ridge Rock Festival’s claim that it was canceled due to severe weather.
Jesse Barker worked the festival and says the crew faced a multitude of poor conditions.
“We just wanted working showers, a water station at our campsite,” he said. Barker claims workers created a list of demands, including basic necessities: water, food, and shelter.
“We had set a deadline with a list of demands by 5 p.m. Saturday or we’re cutting everything off and they canceled the festival right before 5 on Saturday,” he said.
The posted list asked for “more showers,” as well as “sufficient portions” of food served to staff. They also asked for safety, shelter, better leadership, and transparency, according to the photograph Barker sent WFXR.
Organizers claim they canceled the festival due to severe weather. National Weather Service data shows one thunderstorm Saturday at 1 p.m. and overcast skies the rest of the weekend.
“To say it was canceled due to weather was just odd,” said Cameron Skiba, who attended the festival.
However, Thursday there had been hail storms and, according to multiple attendees including Skiba, no shelter. People were told to evacuate to shuttle buses he says.
“We stood there for probably three and a half hours before they loaded us onto the bus,” said Skiba. “We got to the parking lot, loaded in the car, and left so we didn’t get to see a single band that day.”
Trinity Shaver attended the festival with her mom, a disabled veteran who uses a scooter to get around. The website, while warning of hilly terrain, does promise accessible pathways.
“Most of the venue was on a slanted hill,” said Shaver, which was difficult for her mother to traverse on the scooter. “She ended up falling a few times throughout the day, getting from one stage to the next. She has a lot of bruises from it.”
Shaver says evacuation was so long and strenuous, that EMS eventually evacuated her mother.
“Then I waited in line for about five and a half, six hours,” she said.
WFXR reached out to organizers of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival for a response to these and other claims about piling trash, lack of access to water, and poor transportation. They have not gotten back to us.
Meanwhile, presale has already begun for next year’s festival at the Raceway. We asked VRI if they will be hosting the event again next year, and they said they have a multi-year contract with the festival.