Festival 411: Why Whiskey Myers Is Pushing Ahead With Firewater Music Festival
While U.S. mega-festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands have told fans that they will have to wait until 2021, Whiskey Myers announced the lineup for Firewater Music Festival, a camping shindig held on a massive site outside of Kansas City, on June 11.
With a lineup curated by the band including Drive-By Truckers, Whitey Morgan, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Steel Woods and more, Whiskey Myers frontman Cody Cannon told Pollstar they have been working on this event for more than a year and, while the No. 1 priority is to make sure everything is done to the highest standards of safety, they are receiving encouragement from local authorities.
“We had to make a decision. If we were going to be able to do it this year, we were going to need to put the tickets on sale now, so we’ll see what happens,” Cannon said. “[Of course] we’re going to go with whatever the government says and what everyone feels is safe. We’re not trying to put anyone in harm’s way.”
That said, with October still four months out Cannon and co. are very optimistic that the show will be able to take place. Ticket prices start at $125 for a two-day GA pass with tent camping. VIP packages with private bathrooms and dedicated viewing areas start at $225. With the landscape for possible reopening in different parts of the country seemingly changing on a weekly basis, the band’s manager Eddie Kloesel of Triple 8 Management told Pollstar one of the organizers’ main priorities has been to message that if the event does have to cancel fans will absolutely be receiving a full refund or will have the ability to transfer their ticket to 2021.
“I think the ticket sales are promising, though I do think people are a little leery to give their money up until they know the event is going to happen.” Kloesel said. “I think the biggest thing is I just want people to feel safe spending their money.”
“We have a promise on our site that 100 percent of the fan’s money will come back. We are not going to retain any fees, we are not trying to be shady in any way with this process.”
Kloesel said the promoter, Kevin Bordegon of Borda Productions, has a lot of experience staging events at the venue like Tumbleweed Music Festival and Dancefestopia, and his relationship with the local authorities has allowed them to remain in constant communication with local officials.
“Kansas City has been amazing as far as communication with the promoter in terms of ‘This is what we need to do to be safe, here are the guidelines,’” Kloessel said.
Kloessel estimates the festival site’s capacity for camping is approximately 20,000, but for Firewater the organizers would be happy to get 2,500 or 3,000 people together to enjoy music and a beautiful campground together during these times. Some of the precautions organizers are taking to protect attendees from COVID-19 include enhanced protective measures for guests and staff like on-site protective equipment, widely available hand washing and sanitizing stations, and plexiglass barriers at points of sale; physical distancing by way of reduced capacity, signage to help organize lines and crowds in an organized manner; enhanced sanitation including multiple cleanings of high-touch locations daily; and on-site medical professionals in three locations with a roaming “safety team.”
Kloesel acknowledges that insurance during this period is a headache, but between their own coverage and that being taken out by Bordegon and Borda Productions, Kloesel said he feels comfortable they will be covered.
Cannon said the band is excited the festival may become a reality.
“A lot of these people we know, we’re friends with, and that was a big thing, getting our buddies together, whose music we dig, and getting everyone to play together for the fans. I think that’s really cool that we pulled that off,” Cannon said. “[As far as ticket sales] I’m feeling like people are going to be pretty bored and will want to go do something [laughs].
“You know we want everyone to be safe. But I think it will be good if this is allowed to happen and it looks like it is. But in this day and age you never know from one day to the next what’s gonna be happening.”