Blue Ridge Rock Festival Issues First Major Statement in 10 Days
On Sept. 12, the fest shared a message three days removed from their Saturday, Sept. 9 decision to cancel the remainder of the event. The statement acknowledged "misinformation" that will be addressed at a later date (it was unclear what this misinformation was, specifically) and that they were "in extensive discussions with our ticketing company and partners," urging patience as more information regarding a "resolution" would become available.
On Sept. 22, Blue Ridge issued a followup, but offered very little new information, if any, and made no comment regarding ticketing partners or a potential refund.
Blue Ridge Rock Festival Sticking By Weather as Cause for Cancelation
"We are continually working around the clock for you. As one of the few true independent entities remaining, and with just one event a year, the process we are currently working through does unfortunately take additional time," the statement begins.
"Blue Ridge deeply regrets the unexpected turn of events that led to the festival's cancellation. The decision, although difficult, was taken in collaboration with an emergency management team, comprised of local, county, and state officials, as well as venue representatives. It was a collective choice made in the best interest of everyone's safety, including attendees, musicians, and campers," it continues.
"Contrary to some claims, the decision was based solely on safety concerns caused by the weather," the statement clarifies as a catch-all regarding a slew of other reported problems. The Virginia Health Department confirmed they uncovered an unspecified amount of health violations and stagehands have come forth with details about a threat to strike on Sept. 9 if working conditions did not improve.
What Was the Weather Like the Rest of That Weekend?
In a TikTok video published on Sept. 13, Chris Michaels, meteorologist for southwest Virginia's WSLS, addresses the weather conditions during the days Blue Ridge Rock Festival took place, as well as the cancelation overall.
"I reached out to the National Weather Service. They said they do not suggest canceling events — that's just not something that they do. But they did send briefings to emergency management," he says. Michaels also reviewed "archive radar data" from Sept. 9 and 10 surrounding the festival site, noting that little to no rain was in the Saturday (Sept. 9) forecast and that only "scattered showers" were expected on Sunday (Sept. 10). Those weather conditions, Michaels states, were "nothing that you can't play or sit through."
Kerrigan Smith, President of Virginia International Raceway (VIR - the site where Blue Ridge Rock Festival was held) told WDBJ7 that it was the storm that preceded the weekend that ultimately resulted in the cancelation and not the forecast for the event's remaining days.
“We’re not talking about the the condition of when you look up at the sky. We’re talking about the aggregate of the effects of the weather that happened, people’s equipment damaged, tents destroyed. Then, the deterioration of the fire lanes that we had in those areas to where we were not going to be able to either get them out or access them," Smith said.
However, in Blue Ridge Rock Festival's initial statement announcing the cancelation of the remainder of the event, organizers cited on Sept. 9 that the cause was "due to this weekend's continued severe weather."
Blue Ridge Rock Festival Unable to Offer More Details At This Time
The second half of the statement says very little, thanking fans for their "patience and understanding."
"Due to a combination of internal considerations and external factors, we are unable to offer more details at this time, but we are looking forward to doing so. We appreciate your patience and understanding and will communicate further information as soon we are able. We do want you to know we hear you and understand your concerns. We ask for your continued patience," the statement concludes.
Full Statement From Blue Ridge Rock Festival (Sept. 23, 2023)
The statement was released on Blue Ridge Rock Festival's Facebook and Instagram pages, but not X (formerly Twitter). The comments on the Instagram post have been disabled and, at the time of publication, the Facebook post received more than 3,500 comments.
A significant amount of the Facebook comments express disbelief at the festival's claim that weather forced the cancelation. Over half of the reactions have been met with a laughter emoji.
Blue Ridge Rock Festival has yet to address the issue of refunds.
"We are working diligently to provide refund details and will share that information early this week when business re-opens," the fest claimed in a post published on Sept. 9, the day of the cancelation.
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- What's Going on With Blue Ridge Rock Fest? Reports Address Various Rumors, Complaints
- Local news reports speak with representative of the festival venue, health department, sheriff's office and more. A meteorologist analyze's the weekend's weather and a lawyer asks open-ended questions. The issues addressed concern safety procedures, a reported stagehand strike, capacity, health violations, refunds and more.
- Stagehands Speak About Blue Ridge Rock Festival Conditions - 'They Had a Hot Mess on Their Hands'
- Two stagehands speak with local news about their experience working at Blue Ridge Rock Festival, alleging the shower facilities were moldy and often inoperable while addressing other issues.