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No fairy-tale ending for Ever After fest as organizers pull plug

Organizers blame 'several key third parties' for the festival not going forward at Burl's Creek, but township officials say their operational plan was 'incomplete'

Ever After Music Festival organizers have officially announced the event’s cancellation. 

Ever After’s official Twitter account posted a statement today (Aug. 5) that said the electronic music festival would not be happening, laying the blame at the feet of “several key third parties” and also saying the future of the yearly summer event is now up in the air.

Shortly after noon on Friday, the tweet said it was “with great sadness and disappointment” that the event was not going ahead.

Organizers of the Ever After Music Festival — which is focused on electronic dance music and includes “fully immersive” camping experiences — were hoping it could be held at Burl’s Creek, located off Highway 11 between Barrie and Orillia, from Thursday, Aug. 11 to Sunday, Aug. 14.

It was previously held in Kitchener in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 before taking two years off due to the pandemic. Organizers had hoped it could relocate to Burl’s Creek because it had outgrown its previous venue.

The event had created controversy recently when, at a July 21 meeting, Oro-Medonte Township council voted down a special-events permit on the advice of Shawn Binns, the municipality's director of operations and community services.

Binns said festival promoters had indicated that attendance remained uncertain, as there were 10,000 tickets from the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, that had carried forward to the 2022 event.

Friday's tweet from Ever After organizers also said: “Contrary to various rumours that have been circulating regarding the reasons that led to Ever After 2022’s cancellation, we can assure you that we took every step necessary to satisfy the special-event permit requirements.”

To obtain a special-events permit from the township, municipal officials previously said that organizers are required to develop operational plans outlining matters such as site layout, emergency management, food and beverage, traffic management, building and structural plans, fire safety, security, waste management, and community impact.

“Despite our tremendous investment of time, effort, commitment and money, we have been met with a series of obstacles from several key third parties that will prevent this event from moving forward as planned," festival organizers also said Friday on social media. 

“Let us be clear, this is not our decision to cancel  we have been forced to cancel by third parties.”

The Township of Oro-Medonte also issued a statement on Friday acknowledging cancellation of the festival. 

The township says the festival was not being operated, produced or affiliated with Burl’s Creek Event Grounds or Republic Live, but rather “the production and operation of the festival was instead being managed by a third-party event organizer.”

“Over the past several months, township staff and agency partners... have communicated with representatives from the festival for the purpose of providing logistical assistance to facilitate the development of an acceptable operational plan that is required for the issuance of a special-event permit by the township,” the township says in a statement.

Those "agency partners" include Ontario Provincial Police, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), County of Simcoe Paramedic Services and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

“Given the incomplete status of the operational plan submitted by the organizers for the festival, the ability to implement appropriate controls and public safety measures and requirements within an appropriate time frame prior to commencement of the festival, and potential adverse impacts to public health and safety and security of attendees, performers, vendors and residents, the township’s agency partners could not approve the operational plan for the festival," the township added. "In accordance with its obligations under the special-event bylaw, the township could not issue a permit to allow the festival to proceed.”

Despite the announced cancellation at 12:18 p.m., the Ever After website was still selling tickets as of 3:08 p.m. 

In the tweet from festival organizers, they said anyone who purchased tickets would “receive an email with more information about their orders and their options by next week.”