UpNorth Festival cancelled just over a week before it was due to start
It's not been the greatest year in the festival world, with notable festival cancellations including Pemberton, Karoondinha, and of course, the disaster that was Fyre Festival. Now here's more bad news for some festival-goers: Michigan's EDM-centric UpNorth Festival, scheduled for August 18-20, has been cancelled, just over a week before it was due to start. The festival was initially supposed to take place at the Twisted Trails campground in Copemish, Michigan, but attendees worried something was amiss when the venue announced they weren't hosting it on August 4:
We are getting a few people asking about the UpNorth Music Festival, we are not hosting the music festival for 2017.
There are a lot of rumors flying about why the music festival is not being hosted on our property. Without going into extreme detail we hold many events on our property and are required to follow all local state and federal laws when doing so. We refused to come to an final agreement due to discussions on how these regulations must be followed.
Our understanding is a location will be announced by UpNorth on Monday so stay tuned to their website.
UpNorth responded to attendees asking about the status of a venue for the festival with the following on August 8:
To Our UpNorth Family,
We know how anxious you all are with the uncertainty of our location. Please know that we have been working around the clock to solidify a new location against difficult odds. Many of you are close friends, longtime acquaintances, and loyal patrons. We want to be as transparent as possible within our capability at this time. The good news is that we do have an agreement with a land owner who is excited to host the festival. This location is ideal for our event and is located in close proximity to Copemish.
Last night we had a positive and productive meeting with the township supervisor. At this time we have been advised to not share the location as this could compromise approval in the upcoming days. We ask that you assist us in not speculating as to where the new location is should you have any inside knowledge as this could also compromise the approval process.
We will be able to make our final announcement by the end of the week. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your patience and continued support.
Thursday (8/10), festival staff issued an official statement, where they announced refunds will be given out:
To our UpNorth family,
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you UpNorth Festival will not be happening this year. Eight months ago Twisted Trails granted us permission to have the event, so we went onsale with tickets. As things developed and we learned that the owners were no longer willing to work with us, we tried purchasing the land. We were unable to make this happen, so we went to our backup property. After gaining approvals from a new county, new landowner, EMS, fire departments, rearranging production, routing artists, creating new site and emergency plans, sourced additional security, the local law enforcement could not source enough personnel to sign off on the event. We tried contacting state police and other officers in the area. However we were unable to allocate the personnel needed to hold the event.
Thank you to all the festival goers, local governments, and local businesses who gave us this opportunity to try to create a life changing experience on such short notice. Refunds will be available at your point of purchase, including online purchases and hard copies.
We love each and every one of you, and have an overwhelming appreciation for all of those who stood by us throughout this journey.
Trouble at UpNorth isn't entirely without precedent; last year's edition of the festival had problems as well. UpNorthLive reports that the Manistee County PD deputies "made nearly 150 traffic stops, more than a dozen felony arrests and responded to more than 40 medical calls" during last year's event. The department's retired sheriff recalls there were "numerous calls for overdoses from drugs," and described the entire event as a "headache."
A facebook review of last year's fest pointed out issues, too:
This festival was really poorly put together. The gates were opened early before medical was even onsite. The water was just a giant tank in the middle of the camp. One of the stages was closed due to mud so they shortened all the other sets to squeeze artists in. Major sets were canceled because artists bailed. It was a really weird festival.
Chrome Sparks, Louis the Child, Big Wild, and Rezz were among the artists booked to play the now-cancelled festival.