LaconiaFest Crumbles

LaconiaFest, a nine-day motorcycle and music festival in Laconia, N.H., gradually fell apart, with the final day called off after Sevendust canceled its scheduled performance amid reported financial chaos. 

The June 11-19 festival was in trouble from the start, as ticket sales were far below expectations, which led to deeply discounted tickets and overstaffing for public safety. LaconiaFest boasted a music lineup of more than 100 artists, incluing Steven Tyler, Bret Michaels,Ted NugentBuckcherryFuelSaving AbelP.O.D.WarrantLita FordTrixterL.A. Guns and more.

Tyler’s show was reported to have drawn but 4,000 fans, and Nugent’s headlining gig June 17 turned out to be the fest’s last, with tickets reportedly discounted from $67 to $5. During the festival, City Manager Scott Myers told the Laconia Daily Sun that despite an outstanding $309,830 in unpaid expenses, the city wanted the festival to continue but would have to shut it down if the bills piled too high.

Two days later, it did. Originally, the venue was approved to host a maximum crowd of 33,000. Myers told the Sun city public safety staff like police and firefighters/EMTs were provided based on attendance estimates received from concert promoter Tyler Glover.

However, Glover said he and Myers worked out a plan to deal with 5,000 festivalgoers. He said the city overshot significantly, and sent bills of more than $27,000 and $24,000 for June 11 and 12. The Sun also reported that by the end of the festival a number of event staffers, such as vendors and contractors, were operating out of pocket. As the problems compounded, attendees started to take serious notice.

Comments on LaconiaFest’s Facebook page gave voice to fans who had paid full-price for advance tickets and were furious that walk-up tickets to Ted Nugent were being sold for $5. Comments on the Facebook page indicated that management high-tailed it out of the festival early and also expressed gratitude to the remaining staff that figured out how to bring the event to a close. The operator of the page offered the following comment:

“I am a contracted person who also has not been paid. I have control of the Facebook page.

“I am doing my best to give people answers and help. I do not in any way have ownership or owe anyone money. I have not received any money from any one. I am owed a very large sum myself.

“The money that was raised on Thursday and Friday was used to pay employees and expenses such as ice and pumping the Porta potties to keep the festival going.” 

Bret Michaels and Ted Nugent took the stage to applause June 16 and 17 despite the event’s organization being described as “absolutely horrible” and “piss poor” by fans.

The cancellation of June 18 nixed performances from Sevendust and a number of support acts. In addition to fans and staff wanting money back, bands who had paid to play at the festival expressed frustration on the Facebook page that their sets had been canceled.