LouFest Is Canceled, LouFest Organizer Confirms

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THEO WELLING
  • THEO WELLING

Would-be LouFest attendees concerned about Tropical Storm Gordon's torrential effects on this weekend's Forest Park-based festivities needn't fret about the weather, it would seem, because there's not even going to be a concert this year.

Following explosive reporting by St. Louis Public Radio that multiple contractors, including those for sound and lighting and trash services, had pulled out of the festival citing past due payments, and a report from the St. Post-Dispatch that a hired stagehand told the paper that the festival had been canceled, managing partner Mike Van Hee of LouFest organizer Listen Live Entertainment has released a statement confirming the worst.


"We are sad to announce that LouFest 2018 has been cancelled," it reads. "We know this is a great disappointment to many and that there has been wide speculation around our event. We want to share what’s been going on directly with you."

The statement goes on to cite financial issues involving the loss of the event's top sponsors as well as existing debt from previous events and contract issues with major artists as one major concern. The recent "unfortunately timed media coverage," as it terms it, didn't help. It also says "the fickle St. Louis weather has made us extremely nervous," saying that the festival relies on walk-up ticket sales to be profitable. "We feel it would be irresponsible to continue to invest in an event that might not be able to realize its exceptional potential."



The statement goes on to say that refunds can be obtained through Front Gate Tickets. Listen Live itself does not have the funds.

"We want to recognize the sponsors, vendors, partners, and fantastic team members who have been working around the clock in support of LouFest 2018," it continues. "Producing this event has been a labor of love for our family and the staff – we see it as our gift to our music-loving city."

As recently as Friday organizers seemed optimistic the show would go on. After the revelations about unpaid contractors went public the company released a statement to the Post-Dispatch saying, “Everything is good. We’re on track and on schedule to have another great LouFest.” The festival's official Twitter account echoed the sentiment: "We’ve seen what’s out there and we’ve heard your concerns, but everything is going to plan and we’re pumped for next weekend!"

It is a sour end to a year that has seen significant backlash directed at LouFest by festival-goers over matters including the month-late release of its lineup, the promise of an additional headliner that never materialized and the protracted wait for the festival's daily schedule to be released.

"It has been thrilling to bring so much joy to fans, recognition to St. Louis, a spotlight to its artists, and an estimated $8 million in revenue to the region each year," the statement concludes. "For that, we will always be proud."

Read the statement in its entirety below:

Dear St. Louis,
We are sad to announce that LouFest 2018 has been cancelled. We know this is a great disappointment to many and that there has been wide speculation around our event. We want to share what’s been going on directly with you.

First, and as is usually the case when things like this happen, LouFest had several financial hurdles. The loss of two of the event's top sponsors, scheduling and contract issues with major artists, and existing debt from previous events have all put immense pressure on the balance
sheet.

Overcoming those setbacks while trying to grow the Fest has been a challenge, one that LouFest was on target to meet until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment just days before gates were set to open. LouFest simply couldn’t make that happen.

Second, the fickle St. Louis weather has made us extremely nervous. 2018 pre-sale ticket volume has been fantastic but the festival does rely on walkups to be financially successful. We know first-hand that a rain-soaked weekend like our event experienced in 2016 would both kill that traffic and do physical harm to Forest Park. We feel it would be irresponsible to continue to invest in an event that might not be able to realize its exceptional potential.

Although we don’t currently have the funds to issue refunds, the exceptional festival ticketing company we selected, Front Gate Tickets, owned by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, will be stepping up to refund all fans in full while we work to repay our debts.

We want to recognize the sponsors, vendors, partners, and fantastic team members who have been working around the clock in support of LouFest 2018. Producing this event has been a labor of love for our family and the staff – we see it as our gift to our music-loving city.

It has been thrilling to bring so much joy to fans, recognition to St. Louis, a spotlight to its artists, and an estimated $8 million in revenue to the region each year. For that, we will always
be proud.

Mike Van Hee – Managing Partner
Listen Live Entertainment

See also: With LouFest Cancelled, Vendors Are Regrouping — With a Little Help from Their Friends