T.O. Notes

WayHome goes on hia­tus

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - Richard Trapunski

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.”

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