Festivals are all fun and games, until people start getting murdered, vendors don’t show up, or the whole thing turns out to be an epic scam. All of these things really happened at the worst festivals we could find. Read on to feel really #blessed you didn’t shell out for these disasters.
1. NYC Pizza Festival charges $75 a slice
The attorney general opened an investigation into the recent New York City Pizza Festival after attendees reported its epic failure. Although festivals have their challenges, this one was doomed from the start.
“It was like the people from Fyre Festival decided to throw a pizza party,” Connell Burke told Gothamist. Festival organizer Ishmael Osekre promised a “daylong celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces, and delicious toppings.” Instead, attendees paid up to $75 apiece for tiny, cold slivers served on cake plates. Many commenters later noted pizza fans would have been better off staying home.
The Eventbrite description promised two sessions, including two sold-out VIP entries, but did not mention any pizzerias by name. Organizers also sold tickets to a hamburger festival for the same time and place, which hocked “mountains of french fries, oceans of ketchup and waterfalls of beer,” at a cool $35 and $69.
After the fiasco, incensed foodies started a Facebook group, Pizza Festival Scam Victims, to organize attendees looking for their money back and vent about the experience. Consequently, ticket vendors issued many refunds and organizers ousted Osekre from the Harlem Beer Festival, in which he played a small role.
The next food festival features a familiar name.
2. African (lack of) Food Festival
Osekre also hosted the infamously awful African Food Festival last summer. According to Gothamist, that event took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in an overheated greenhouse with less than half of more than 25 promised vendors.
Attendees reported poor ventilation, overpriced tickets, and underwhelming vendors who set up late. Out of 52 African countries, the event showcased cuisine from three. Attendees griped about small portions, rampant up-charges, and false advertising regarding what was included.
“They promised a meal and two drinks, depending on how much you paid for your tickets, and did not deliver. There were supposed to be over 25+ vendors and there were probably less than 10,” said Barbara Shirley Napoleon. “There were NO rising star African chefs, NO cookbook publishers, and NO sample dishes. Folks were literally on line for an hour because there were practically NO vendors.”
No one caught ‘em all at the next festival.
3. Pokemon Go Festival crashes and burns
The Chicago-based Pokemon Go festival in July intended to gather up to 20,000 Poke-fans to celebrate the game’s anniversary. Instead, connectivity issues and in-game crashes reminded players of the game’s earliest glitches.
The Verge reported snaking lines and early enthusiasm, but as the first big event loomed, accounts began crashing. As the day went on, connectivity issues continued and the crowd grew frustrated, with attendees leaving in droves. As a result, developer Niantic executives promised refunds and ended the event two hours early, with team members reportedly “horrified” by the experience.
The organizers of the next festival fail should have been a red flag right from the start.
4. The Hell’s Angels stab a teenager at Altamont
Historians call the 1969 California music festival Altamont the end of the free-wheeling 60s after the death of four attendees. The event fell far short in the areas of supplies and crowd control, according to Rolling Stone. The Rolling Stones, already known for riotous concerts, organized the event with little attention to logistics. The Hell’s Angels (hired as security) stabbed 18-year-old Meredith Hunter to death, another teen drowned trying to sneak in, and a car thief ran over two men at a campfire.
Speaking of flower power, the anniversary of this famous festival went awry.
5. Woodstock 1999 literally goes up in flames
The 30th anniversary of the festival of peace, love, and rock n’ roll proved anything but. The event took place on the Griffiss Air Force Base, a contaminated site after 50 years of hazardous waste dumping. According to Time, lack of water, soaring temperatures, and a long walk between stages resulted in 700 cases of heatstroke and dehydration.
Security officials walked out after widely counterfeited passes created rampant overcrowding, and reports of sexual assault and rape rolled in. The weekend literally went up in flames after crowds set cars, tents, and booths on fire. New York State Troopers came in to restore order, as a result.
The next festival also failed to live up to its catchphrase.
6. Hope & Glory features hours-long delays
The August festival in Liverpool descended into chaos, after hours-long waits for bands to take the stage. Overcrowding led to long lines, poor access to facilities, and the police finally arrived to take charge of the situation.
Artists took to social media to find alternate venues after the festival fell in and fans told the BBC the event was “basically a disaster.” The mayor of Liverpool promised to investigate and organizers later donated perishable items to the homeless, so something positive came out of the mess.
The final festival is definitely not “on fire.”
7. Fyre Festival proves itself to be hell on Earth
Organizers billed April’s Fyre Festival as “Coachella in the Caribbean,” but attendees’ expectations quickly went up in flames. The event, organized by entrepreneur Billy McFarland and promoted by the rapper Ja Rule, quickly devolved into disaster according to Vanity Fair. One producer briefly associated with the event later told Variety it was, “incompetence on an almost inconceivable scale.”
The promotional video ad showed models relaxing on yachts docked off an island purportedly owned by Pablo Escobar. Unfortunately, Escobar has never owned a Caribbean island. Musical guests supposedly included Blink-182, Migos, Major Lazer, Disclosure and others, none of whom appeared. Instead of luxury villas, attendees arrived to flimsy tents, and instead of chef-prepared meals, organizers handed out boxed lunches. Multiple lawsuits ensued, and the event will go down in history as a fail of epic proportions.
With more and more festivals popping up every year, festival fans will inevitably find some duds. Pro tip? If food festivals don’t list vendors, you nabbed an off-market ticket, or it sounds too good to be true, there’s probably a good reason for that.