ST. LOUIS, Mo (CelebrityAccess) — Organizers for Loufest, the St. Louis-based music and arts festival, announced that the 2018 edition of the event has been canceled, just days before it was due to get underway.
The festival, which was scheduled for September 8 and 9 in St. Louis’s Forest Park, was to have featured more than 41 musical acts, including Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Modest Mouse, the Head, and the Heart, Kacey Musgraves, Gary Clark Jr., T-Pain, and Michael McDonald.
In a post to the festival’s website, Listen Live Entertainment managing partner Mike Van Hee said the cancellation was due to “several financial hurdles” including the loss of two key sponsors, scheduling and contract issues with major artists, and existing debt from previous events.
He also cited “unfortunately timed media coverage” after St. Louis Public Radio reported that the festival’s contractors had pulled off of the festival site. Despite the report, Van Hee maintained as late as Tuesday that the festival was still a go.
“It’s not true,” Van Hee told the Post Dispatch. “Everything is good. We’re on track and on schedule to have another great LouFest.”
However, Chip Self, owner of Logic Systems Sound and Lighting who was providing production for the festival, confirmed the public radio story to the Post-Dispatch.
“Nobody is happy about this, and nobody wants attention over this,” Self told the newspaper. “But nobody wants to be stuck holding the bill. And I don’t want to see anybody else get screwed.”
First launched in 2010 by Brian Cohen, Loufest has been held annually in St. Louis since. Cohen sold his stake in the festival to minority partners in 2016.
Since the cancellation, a number of the acts who were scheduled to perform at Loufest have found other places to stage shows. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, who were lined up as Sunday’s headliners will now perform at the Pageant for an 8 p.m. show, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The Head and the Heart, Mt. Joy and Jukebox the Ghost, have all booked new shows for this weekend at Delmar Hall, and a number of St. Louis-based bands will perform as part of a free concert at Grandel Theatre and the Dark Room.
The full cancellation notice:
Dear St. Louis,
We are sad to announce that LouFest 2018 has been cancelled. We know this is a great disappointment to many and that there has been wide speculation around our event. We want to share what’s been going on directly with you.
First, and as is usually the case when things like this happen, LouFest had several financial hurdles. The loss of two of the event’s top sponsors, scheduling and contract issues with major artists, and existing debt from previous events have all put immense pressure on the balance sheet.
Overcoming those setbacks while trying to grow the Fest has been a challenge, one that LouFest was on target to meet until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment just days before gates were set to open. LouFest simply couldn’t make that happen.
Second, the fickle St. Louis weather has made us extremely nervous. 2018 pre-sale ticket volume has been fantastic but the festival does rely on walkups to be financially successful. We know first-hand that a rain-soaked weekend like our event experienced in 2016 would both kill that traffic and do physical harm to Forest Park. We feel it would be irresponsible to continue to invest in an event that might not be able to realize its exceptional potential.
Although we don’t currently have the funds to issue refunds, the exceptional festival ticketing company we selected, Front Gate Tickets, owned by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, will be stepping up to refund all fans in full while we work to repay our debts.
We want to recognize the sponsors, vendors, partners, and fantastic team members who have been working around the clock in support of LouFest 2018. Producing this event has been a labor of love for our family and the staff – we see it as our gift to our music-loving city.
It has been thrilling to bring so much joy to fans, recognition to St. Louis, a spotlight to its artists, and an estimated $8 million in revenue to the region each year. For that, we will always be proud.
Mike Van Hee – Managing Partner
Listen Live Entertainment