For the second year in a row, the Great GoogaMooga Festival, held in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, left behind a lot of angry people in its wake. Last year it was the unbearable crowds and lack of food that earned the organizers plenty of enemies, but this year it was an ill-managed act of God.
While the event was promoted as "rain or shine," and things went essentially according to plan on Saturday even though it was drizzling, Sunday’s festival, the last day of the three-day event, was cancelled an hour after it was supposed to have started on orders from the Parks Department ("in the interest of safety & prevention of damage to park," according to the organizers, Superfly). Those who had arrived before then were forced to stand in the rain without explanation, emails were sent to ticketholders hours after the fact, and while VIP tickets and unused drink tickets will be refunded, there’s no word yet on what sort of compensation, if any, the 81 vendors who prepared thousands of unsold food portions will be provided.
Several of the chefs behind these restaurants took to Twitter yesterday to voice their concerns, including Sara Jenkins and Andrew Carmellini, as well as PizzaMoto, which is out 1,400 large pies. Carmellini, who wasn’t able to sell 3,000 portions of ribs, will be donating them to City Harvest, a charity that collects unused food, but because there was no system in place for unsold food in the first place, these restaurants will be largely on their own when it comes to selling off what’s left before it spoils. Luke’s Lobster sold their lobster rolls for $2 off, Baked sold off their lemonade for $1, and Do or Dine’s foie gras donuts were sold for half price, but it appears as if the vast majority of unsold food was picked up by food banks while the restaurants took a massive financial loss.
Because many vendors ran out of food last year, this year the organizers suggested that all vendors prepare 4,000 portions of food for the weekend. Northern Spy only sold about 800 of those portions, so the owners estimated that they lost about $10,000. The Brindle Room tweeted that they’re out about $15,000, and Joe’s Pub said that they’re out about $19,000. So even if we go a very conservative route and assume that each vendor lost about $5,000, that means that the total loss that restaurants suffered because of the cancellation was about $400,000.
Superfly, for their part, appears to be in the process of devising a solution for the understandably angry restaurant owners. "In the coming days, we are sitting down with all our partners to find financial solutions," they tweeted.
Even if they end up coming to an agreement that makes all parties happy, the facts will remain certain: the festival will have gone another year without making any money, and vendors will likely think twice before committing to be a vendor next year, if the festival is held again at all.