A LETTER FROM THE #FEST FOUNDER
March 20, 2015
Let me start off by saying a few words of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my 15+ years since I stepped foot on OU’s campus back in 2000. Athens is a sacred place. Those of you who are lucky enough to call it home for 4-6 years (I know some of you take your time) will one day appreciate the experience you had more than you’ll ever know. I am proud to say that #Fest has become engrained in that experience. As is the case with most things, times change. Generally speaking, for the better. This goes for #Fest. What I am about to explain to you is a small look into the process, planning and logistical intricacies of producing an event this size — with this many people attending.
At the end of the day, our #1 Goal every year is to make sure we have the SAFEST environment possible for all those in attendance as well as those who share the community in which we produce this event. The past 3 years have shown a great deal of growth in the overall scope and size of #Fest — both from an attendance number perspective, but also from a pure financial and liability perspective. In short, the #Fest costs a ton of money to put on – I’m talking a ton of money. The fee for Talent alone has hit astronomical numbers. Just to pay for the performers costs roughly 9,000 tickets (sometimes we relate everything to how many tickets it will take to pay for said line item – and that’s just the lineup). With an increased emphasis on talent — comes an increased number of individuals who attend the event because the bill is stacked with the best and most sought after Artists around the music world. Seeing Diplo at Ultra — $160 minimum. Checking out Schoolboy Q, G-Eazy or iLoveMakonnen at a venue — $35, each, and you will never see them all on the same stage — ever (maybe not ever, but you get what I’m saying). Want to see 21 music acts in the same day? Bunbury in Cincinnati offers that for $80 but you definitely aren’t bringing your own booze in to any of these places. With that increased amount of attendees, we have to drastically increase the measures in which we police and secure the event, for SAFETY reasons. Greed has absolutely nothing to do with it. Safety and Sustainability has everything to do with it.
#Fest has grown to accommodate some 17,000+ attendees. With that growth has come a request, and rightfully so, of an increased security presence by both local law enforcement and the local government. It would be irresponsible of us to not take a hard look at how much security and safety personnel we hire to create the safest event, venue and travel to and from #Fest. We have hired the Country’s most respected Event Security Company, CSC — those men and women who wear the Yellow Shirts at the Super Bowl or at The Convo or Peden or The Horseshoe on any given game day. The reason we are doing this is because they are trained on how to safely get festival attendees into and out of the venue in an orderly fashion in an expedited manor. No more excessive lines. No more unruly behavior by the hand full of goofballs that act like they haven’t been in public before. There are too many people who are respectful and reasonable to allow the actions of a few to ruin lifelong memories of so many. The added safety and security expenses are massive.
We are drastically increasing our planning and execution for departure and Free Shuttles this year. Every attendee will have an opportunity to take a FREE Shuttle back to the Uptown area near campus at #13Fest. We have hired 30 Shuttle Buses. They will run all night long. They will not stop until every individual has made it back to town. We are also working with the local cab companies in Athens to provide a better public transportation system for attendees looking for sanctioned and licensed rides to and from the event. We are also creating more parking on-site for those who want to drive to and from the event; however, we can’t stress enough, DONT DRINK AND DRIVE. We have a plan in place with local law enforcement to control the traffic flow for both attendees as well as those individuals who call the area home. We cannot stress enough that we host this event in the backyards of people who call Athens home, all year around. We have to put in measures that help create a better experience for those folks who are affected by #Fest the one day a year we are in town.
Again, #Fest is an oddity. It’s an independently run music festival that caters to the Collegiate Demo, right in the backyard of one of the greatest Universities in the Country. The fact that we can still incorporate a BYOB policy is a miracle in its own right. Have you ever been to a Music Festival or Concert that allows BYOB — and if so, were there rules and regulations regarding it? The first answer is, probably not. And if you do answer yes, the second answer is, most definitely there were rules. In case you didn’t know, we are also offering 4 Fully Stocked Bars at #Fest. You can drink all the Jäger Bombs you’d like (if you are 21+ years old of course). There are options. If you don’t want beer, you can order practically any drink you’d like at one of our Bars for a very reasonable price.
To reiterate: For $45 (for some they bought tickets in January for $25) and a $10 optional BYOB fee, you are getting to participate in a one of a kind festival experience — LITERALLY — #Fest is the only one of its kind. Diplo, Schoolboy Q, G-Eazy, Borgeous, iLoveMakonnen, Branchez, DJ Sliink, Denzel Curry, Curtis Williams, E-V, Clockwork DJ, Lost Kings, Ezzy — the list goes on, all at the same place — for $45! That doesn’t happen. It’s 2015; a pack of smokes is $8 and your favorite on demand movie costs $5.99 for the HD version.
The $10 BYOB Fee is to help pay for an additional 20 Buses that we didn’t have last year. It is to help pay for the additional 75 CSC security guards, 15 additional Sheriff’s Deputies, 100 staff members & the insanely expensive clean up and restoration of the area that #Fest is held at. On a side note, please clean up after yourselves! Respect the environment. Respect your town. Respect your neighbors. Respect that this event is put on for you, the fans, attendees and students. $10 BYOB Fee is a necessity if we want to be able to continue to incorporate BYOB into the #Fest. It’s as simple as that. It’s a must. I get it, money is tight – you are College kids, but this Music Festival is still the best-priced event around. Do some research and you’ll see for yourselves.
We have had to make changes — changes that will only help keep this festival alive and growing. Better isn’t cheaper! Remember that (another word of wisdom). For $50 you are going to an incredible festival where you can still pack a cooler full of ice cold beer (if you are 21+ years old of course), and last time I checked, 3 cases fit into a cooler. You get a free ride to and from the event. You get to experience something that no other college students in the country get to experience. For $50! Shoot, for some people who got their tickets for $25/$30, its only $40 all in. That is the cheapest Music Festival Experience in the world. There, I said it. Cheapest. In. The. World. You spend that much at Courtside and Crystal on a Tuesday, on accident (Sorry Mom).
Take a step back — Put down the Twitter! Breathe a bit. Understand that this isn’t Palmer Fest — this isn’t High Fest — this isn’t your average “Fest” anymore. #Fest has become something way bigger. In turn, in order to control and maintain #Fest, these rules must be put into place. The powers that be — local government officials, law enforcement officials, county officials, they demanded change. They have spoken. Without these changes, which are for the better, #Fest would have been shut down. We’ve dedicated too much time and energy into making this event a once in a lifetime experience for those lucky enough to make it. Adding a few rules to guarantee the future of this event wasn’t too much for us to consider. As a matter of fact, it would have been down right ridiculous if we didn’t make these slight changes in our rules and regulations. In one statement: “I DONT WANT YOU TO DIE.” I think that goes for everybody. SAFETY first. The most insane music experience around comes second.
We will be hosting a live stream Q&A next Monday. I will personally be online answering your questions. Fear not — this isn’t gong to be one of those “Ask #Fest Anything” Twitter hashtag fiascos. Legitimate Q&A to better help you the attendees understand the new #Fest. We promise #13Fest is going to be the greatest edition yet.
#Fest Founder (who is now a Dad and sometimes has to think like one).
Ohio University Class of ’04 & ’05 (I loved it so much I came back)