World Gone Wrong

The World United Music Festival in San Marcos, Texas, was shut down Nov. 15, a day before it was supposed to end, but not everyone knew it.

About a dozen vendors and a few ticketholders reportedly arrived the next morning to find an empty field and the remnants of a main stage.

The festival was produced by the United States Entertainment Force, which raises money for military veteran causes. The Roots Music Association also co-sponsored a radio conference at the site.

“This was an event to benefit our soldiers and our disabled veterans. They are the losers of what happened,” USEF’s Jerry Payne told Pollstar “We have to take a look at the breakdown – some type of contractual arrangement that might have been made between the production company to produce the event, totally, and any subcontractors we may have hired. I’m still here in Texas to get to the bottom of this and see how we can move forward from the situation.”

An unidentified performer told the Austin American Statesman the show hit a snag Saturday when a sound company pulled out in a financial dispute and several acts performed without a P.A.

“I believe that was the case,” Payne said. “There’s more to it than that. The reason why the sound company pulled out is what we’re trying to investigate.”

The festival boasted nearly 150 acts on eight stages, according to American Statesman, but was “woefully short” on national touring acts and drew an “embarrassingly” small crowd.

One performer told the newspaper that about 20 paying customers were on the festival grounds at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14.

Asleep at the Wheel and Ray Benson were expected to headline Sunday night, but organizers shut down the festival at 6:30 the night before. Along with the production dispute, organizers blamed a storm on Friday that blew towers onto the stage and freezing conditions the following day.

A music fan who arrived on Sunday told Austin’s News 8 that she saw only cows and horses. A vendor told the news station she couldn’t find any staff. A pizza vendor, Ryan Weber, said he drove his business from California and lost close to $10,000.

“This was the bad dream that I wish never came true,” Weber said.

Tickets sold for $35 a day or $70 for a weekend pass. Although organizers expected more than 100,000 visitors, only about 200 tickets were sold, according to the event’s marketing manager.

The event advertised military vehicles from before World War II, an airplane fly-over, hot air balloon rides, a Frisbee golf course and a Black Hawk helicopter landing at noon each day to kick off the music.