WayHome goes on hiatus
After three years at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, WayHome Music & Arts festival is putting its 2018 edition on hold.
“After much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to push pause on the 2018 edition to allow us to reflect, re-assess and reimagine the event,” says Eva Dunford, co-founder of Republic Live, the promoter behind the festival.
According to a press release, the company will instead produce a series of (presumably smaller) events throughout the summer. Boots & Hearts, the company’s annual country music festival, will continue to take place at Burl’s Creek, including next year.
WayHome launched to much fanfare in 2015 as a partnership between Republic Live and AC Entertainment, the bookers behind Bonnaroo, and was touted by many in the media as a sort of Bonnaroo North – the only multi-day camping music festival of its scale in the Toronto-area market.
From the beginning, WayHome has faced opposition from a local residents’ group called Save Oro, which has taken issue with the noise and the zoning of the 600-plus-acre Burl’s Creek property. Last year, APTN News published a report suggesting the site may be located on sacred Indigenous burial grounds.
Shannon McNevan, who founded WayHome, parted ways with Republic Live after the festival’s first summer, while Ryan Howes, creative director of the festival in 2015 and 2016, left in May of this year, two months before the 2017 edition.
AC Entertainment also parted ways with WayHome last year and the booking was taken over by Fource Entertainment for its 2017 edition.
There was considerably less hype for this year’s lineup headlined by Imagine Dragons, Frank Ocean and Flume. The festival also felt smaller, with the number of stages reduced from four to three.
Republic Live reported its 2015 attendance numbers as 35,000 throughout the weekend and 40,000 in 2016. It did not release numbers for 2017 and the company had no comment to a request for clarification from NOW. Ac- cording to CTV, festival organizers estimated 15,000 people on the grounds per day and acknowledged a dip in attendance, but wouldn’t say by how much.
This has been a particularly tough year for major music festivals, with festivals like NXNE and Manifesto playing to noticeably sparse crowds and others like the Toronto Urban Roots Fest (TURF) and Bestival taking the year off.
For its part, Republic Live is saying WayHome is “pushing pause” and says “this isn’t goodbye, just see you later.”