Sad note accompanies Big Barrel’s cancellation

DOVER — Mayor Robin Christiansen sang the blues last week when he heard the Big Barrel Country Music Festival was canceled.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I’m a country music fan.”

Promoters Red Frog Events and Goldenvoice announced the cancellation Thursday afternoon of the June 24-26 festival.

Big Barrel, produced by Firefly’s Red Frog Events, was scheduled to be three-day affair held the weekend after Firefly at Dover International Speedway’s Woodlands.

Ticket purchasers automatically will receive full refunds, including all service charges, which began on Monday.

Mayor Christiansen said the cancellation will have an economic impact on Dover.

“I think it’s going to hurt local vendors, restaurants and hotels. The number of people that attended was minimal, but anything that adds to the economy isn’t minimal.

“The event could have grown bigger and bigger. It could have continued to help make Dover the ideal destination for many years to come.”

Dover Motorsports Inc. President Michael Tatoian said in an interview Thursday the decision came without warning.

The inaugural family-friendly festival, which attracted upward of 25,000 to 35,000 people in 2015, featured a petting zoo, Harvest Moon Dance Hall, The BBQ Pit and an appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales.

The second event was to have featured acts such as Brad Paisley, Hank Williams Jr., Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Sam Hunt, Martina McBride and Travis Tritt.

The cancellation also saddened Judy Diogo, director of Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce.

“I hope it comes back,” she said. “I believe that most of the businesses in Kent County will feel that loss because 25,000 to 30,000 people were coming out and these people were staying in hotels, going to gas stations and buying food.”

“It’s a loss, but I hope everything will be fine moving forward.”

It’s Mr. Tatoian’s understanding that Big Barrel has been canceled permanently.

Spokeswomen Lauren King, of Chicago-based Red Frog Events, and Lindsay Lyons, of California’s Goldenvoice, creators of the highly successful Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California, both said Thursday that neither would have additional comment other than what was posted on the Big Barrel website.

The fifth annual Firefly Music Festival, set for the week before at the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, still will take place.

James Waddington, director of Kent County Economic Partnership, said Big Barrel in 2015 was a success story.

“It had a tremendous economic impact on Dover and surrounding area. However, if you look at the position Dover is in, I think this won’t be the end of the story, as another chapter will open up,” Mr. Waddington said.”

“I think it had the potential to be just as big as Firefly. I just hope moving forward there will be events similar to this.”

Linda Parkowski, director of the Delaware Tourism Office, shared the sentiment.

“Obviously, this news is disappointing,” Ms. Parkowski said.

“But Delaware has proven it has the facilities and infrastructure to host large-scale events. We are hopeful another festival organizer will see the state’s merits and potential.”

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