Promoters pulled the plug on the final day, Sunday, July 22, of the Jukebox Country Music Festival and prematurely cancelled the event leaving in their wake hundreds of bewildered commercial booth operators and thousands of angry fans, some of whom had driven many miles to see headliner Alan Jackson perform.
“There were a lot of people looking for answers,” said Chris Workman, chief executive officer of the 27th Agricultural District that operates the Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson where the festival was booked from 11 a.m. Friday through 9 p.m. Sunday.
“It was a wonderful event. It is a shame it had to end like this,” Workman said as she called in extra security to control the crowds that were reluctant to leave the fairgrounds.
“I called the California Highway Patrol because they weren’t due to be on the grounds until 6 p.m. to help with departures,” Workman said. “I had to do something to protect the vendors who have a lot of inventory that they must pack up.”
By 10 a.m. Sunday, however, it was clear that Jackson, who had flown into Redding early Sunday morning after a sold-out performance in Salinas, Calif., would not be appearing at the Jukebox festival as promoters had been promising for more than a year.
Jackson, who had been too ill to perform Friday at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, was heading back to Los Angeles for a rescheduled concert Wednesday, his Web site stated.
Workman worried aloud that even though her organization merely rented the facility to the event promoter, “shutting the event down early will reflect poorly” on the Shasta District Fair.
Concert promoter Allan Folino of Redding was not seen at the fairgrounds Sunday and left the sorting out of angry fans and disappointed vendors to Workman and the head of the private security force patrolling the fairgrounds.
“The vendors are upset because they have stock they purchased for today and now they are losing out on a day’s worth of sales. There were a lot of pissed-off people here, too, but they didn’t have enough alcohol in them to cause any trouble,” Workman added.
The festival meltdown officially began at 2:30 p.m., just as Summer Schappell of Redding was about to step onto the Pepsi Stage to begin her set of songs, reported Tracye Dethero, a freelance writer and photographer covering the event, in part, for the Anderson Valley Post.
“I arrived about 1 p.m. and everybody was really happy and looking forward to the final day of concerts,” Dethero said.
Ricky Skaggs had just done a sound check on the headliner stage and Pam Tillis was next in line to do the same when one of the promoters went to the microphone and told the crowd that “we are shutting down the festival.”
“The venue is now closed. Please go home,” the man said tersely, unwilling or unable to give any more of an explanation than that, Dethero said.
“That was when they turned the sound equipment off on both stages, she added.
Pam Tillis told the crowd that she was willing to stay and play as long as the crowd was willing to listen and she sang “Amazing Grace” with the audience singing along, Dethero said.
That was when uniformed private security guards took to the stage and told the crowd to disperse, she said.
“I thought Pam Tillis was great and trying to do what she could for all her fans. I am very disappointed in the promoter. I think a better solution could have been found for Sunday’s performance,” said Robbie Ennis of Cottonwood, who witnessed the event.
By 3 p.m., vendors were busy packing up their wares and dumping bags of ice cubes on the grass rather than take them home.
That was when festival promoters first informed the public of what was happening in a tersely-worded statement emailed to media contacts or read aloud at n on-location broadcast booth set up by one of the Redding radio stations.
“We are very grateful for those of you who were able to join us on Friday and Saturday at the Jukebox Music Festival,” the statement read.
“Despite the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers, community supporters and generous sponsors, we are saddened to have to close the gates on our inaugural festival at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 22.
“We are very sorry to have not been able to fulfill our dream. We hope you all enjoyed the two-and-a-half-days of music, dancing and eating. For more information send us an email at email@example.com. Please allow two weeks for response while we sort this out,” the statement continued.
Even at 5 p.m., people remained standing outside the fairgrounds’ north entry gates where some were overheard angrily telling late arrivees that the venue was closed down and warning them not to expect a refund.
“It is disappointing for those of us that have come a long way for the festival and have paid a lot of money. We are not getting what we paid for. We are getting nothing on the third day of the concert. People have a right to be upset,” said Barbara Pfiffer of Klamath Falls, Ore.
“This blows me away. We spent a lot of money for nothing. A lot of people are really mad about it and they have a right to be,” commented Rob Kessner of Cottonwood.
“I am kinda pissed. People should be honest with the fans about what is going on. They should be letting us know what is happening. We traveled a long way for this concert,” added Alex Knigge of Jackson, Calif.