As the 2010 festival season looms, more destination events are folding for the year as they face financial and scheduling difficulties. One of the latest casualties is the Rothbury Festival, which would have been entering its third year but is instead facing a year-long hiatus.
The music festival, which debuted in 2008, completed two successful seasons at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI. Staged on or around Independence Day, the four-day event drew crowds over 30,000 and quickly became a small-but-formidable rival for similar destination festivals catering to the jam band genre, such as the Tennessee-based Bonnaroo.
Organizers for the Rothbury Festival chalked up its 2010 demise to scheduling difficulties, but vowed to start focusing on a 2011 return for the event.
“A contributing factor in our decision is that, due to various artists’ recording and touring schedules, we now believe that timing will not allow for us to assemble the cutting edge roster that everyone has come to expect from Rothbury,” a statement on the festival’s Web site read. “The result for this year is that we are not able to move forward with the integrity and high standards that we demand from ourselves and for the festival.”
2010 has proven to be a fatal year for destination festivals across the United States and Canada. Several of the nation’s leading medium-sized festivals have fallen by the wayside as they compete with behemoths like Coachella and Bonnaroo for audiences and revenue, and struggle to create solvent business models and find interested investors.
In November 2009, Monolith’s creators made a public appeal for investors to ensure that the festival could enter a fourth year. At the time, founder Josh Baker told TicketNews that the Colorado-based event needed an estimated $250,000 in investments to return in September 2010. As of early January, investments and sponsors were still being sought.
Another destination event for jam music fans, the 10,000 Lakes Festival also closed its gates for 2010 after seven moderately successful years in Detroit Lakes, MN. With crowds in the 15,000 range every year, profit became an issue despite the festival’s ability to snag big-name headliners like Dave Matthews Band in the past.
More recently, Live Nation put British Columbia’s Pemberton Festival on hold for a second year. Last week’s announcement did not come as a surprise; the three-day event ran for a single season in 2008 before delays in approval and logistical problems led to its 2009 cancellation.
After cancelling Pemberton last year, Live Nation originally planned to bring the festival back to Canada for 2010. But this time around, there is no targeted return date for Pemberton, which drew crowds over 40,000 during its inaugural year.
“For the time being, we have put plans to stage the next Pemberton Festival on hold while we work with local officials on issues that will make the festival financially feasible for us,” a statement from Live Nation read. “We hope we will be able to bring back the festival in the future.”