LAFAYETTE, Ga. — CalderaFest, a beleaguered Pagan music festival scheduled for May 2019, has been cancelled according to a statement released by festival founder David Banach.
The festival debuted May 2016 in LaFayette, and a second one was scheduled there for Oct. 5-9, 2017.
On Aug. 31, 2017, Banach announced on the CalderaFest Pagan Music Festival Facebook page that “ticket sales were not as robust as we hoped” and that the event was being postponed to May 2019. “We are carrying over all existing tickets to the new date,” the post said, meaning refunds would not be given.
The statement announcing the cancellation was posted April 12. The statement appeared on the CalderaFest Pagan Music Festival Facebook page and was emailed to several media outlets, including the Wild Hunt, following inquiries from those outlets. It reads:
My name is David Banach and I am the creator of CalderaFest Pagan Music Festival.
CalderaFest 2019 will not be happening.
CalderaFest was my idea for over a decade and my passion and my obsession for over 4 years now. It truly breaks my heart to have no choice but to cancel the event. After spending nearly $50,000 out of our pockets to pay for CalderaFest, we find that 2019 and beyond is just not financially possible.
We will be issuing refunds as a percentage of the sale price based on the amount of capital that we still have. We will be sending out e-mails very soon to ticket holders and vendors regarding this.
All I can say is that we are truly sorry for this and it tears me apart to have to do this. I know many of you will be upset by this news. Please remember that we did this for the betterment of the greater Pagan community. All we ever wanted was to be able to break even.
At this time, this is the only statement we will make and we will not be answering questions about this.
A Wild Hunt request for further comment sent to the CalderaFest email has not been answered as of this writing. The festival’s Facebook page has since been deleted.
Jennifer Griffin, an artist, designer, and photographer from Woodstock, Ga., worked as a vendor at the inaugural CalderaFest and decided to purchase a double vending space for the 2017 event. She paid the $206 via PayPal on June 26, 2016, she said, and received an email notification and phone call from festival organizers when the event was postponed to May, 2019.
“I was fine with it as long as I was still able to be a vendor,” Griffin told the Wild Hunt. “However, I had already spent over $1,000 in supplies to make new items specifically for the festival, and a new 10-by-20 vendor tent to set up shop . . . . I held onto the supplies and new tent thinking I would just use it for the later show. Now, I am not only out my vendor fee but also the investment in items for the festival.
“Now I cannot get in touch with anyone to get my vendor fee back. They have all but disappeared. The paganmusicfestival.com site is gone, they are gone off of Facebook, even the production company is gone. If I had the funds to front for a lawyer, I would take them to court to get my money and investment back. But as it is, I am just a one-person business, trying to make a living, and I don’t have the cash flow to hire a lawyer. It is just very bad business and I am a believer in you reap what you sow.”
Eight people responded within four hours to Banach’s Facebook post about the cancellation. A short time later, attempts by this reporter to once again access the Facebook page repeatedly returned a “this content isn’t available right now” message.
Earlier on April 12, the calderafest.com website was functioning and featured Banach’s August 2017 message about the event’s postponement. Later on April 12, a visit to that website address led to the message “Looks Like This Domain Isn’t Connected To A Website Yet!”
Another CalderaFest site which Griffin referred to, paganmusicfestival.com, also was not functioning when this reporter attempted to access it on April 14.
Of the eight respondents to the Facebook post about the cancellation, four requested a “full refund.” A fifth person posted: “I’ve been requesting a refund since the ‘postponement’ was announced. Haven’t heard a peep.”
Husband and wife Chris and Angela Wade, who run Damon’s Armory, a chainmail-making business, were vendors at the inaugural CalderaFest. Angela told the Wild Hunt she paid $180.25 to sell at the 2017 CalderaFest.
Before the CalderaFest Facebook page was taken down, Angela posted there, writing in part, “I don’t need a full explanation of why it was canceled but I do need a full refund because I paid as soon as the one was announced for 2017. When that was postponed, I was supportive and said that I didn’t need a refund, just hold it to 2019. I was cool with that. Now, I’m not cool with it . . . I feel like those of us who were there at the first one deserve better than this post and a statement of ‘We aren’t answering questions.’”
Two posters expressed support for Banach, including one who wrote:,“Geez, folks, give the guy a break. He only has so much money and told you he would split that amount to refund at least part of the fee. I get that you are angry, but he is doing all he can.”
The CalderaFest 2019 ticket sales page on eventbrite.com was still up as of April 14, although a check of the site on March 31 had revealed a “sales ended” message throughout the page. Ticket prices listed on the site included $150 general admission, $300 VIP admission, $50 children ages 6-12, $50 for a day pass, and a “Party Pack” of 10 general admission tickets for $1,000. Processing fees and sales tax were extra for each ticket level.
A CalderaFest 2019 ticket sales page on eventbee.com also was up as of April 14, but it included different ticket prices than the eventbrite.com page.
The eventbee page also listed a lineup of 29 performers that included Arthur Hinds, Brian Henke, Damh the Bard, Didges Christ Superdrum, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Hecate’s Wheel, Mama Gina, S.J. Tucker, Spiral Rhythm, Treblehawk, Tuatha Dea, Wendy Rule, Witch’s Mark and others.
Trisha Parker is one of the organizers of Phoenix Festivals, which hosts Phoenix Phyre in March and Autumn Meet in October in Lakeland, Fla. “This is so sad and affects the integrity and reputation of other festivals,” Parker said. The postponement of the October 2017 CalderaFest “put a huge hit on us because those bands had to scramble to play in other places and that made them being at our festival not unique.
“We hired Tuatha Dea and Spiral Dance to play at Autumn Meet 2017. They were going to have to cancel with us or play at venues around us to make up the money they lost. Therefore, playing at our festival exclusively was ruined by Caldera cancelling. We lost quite a bit of money as a result.”
Despite the debacle that CalderaFest became, a number of attendees at the inaugural event praised the music.
“The music was awesome,” said Angela Wade of Damon’s Armory. “Several of my favorite artists performed. Damh the Bard, S.J. Tucker, Celia Farran, Witch’s Mark and many more were just amazing.”
Singer-guitarist Mama Gina was one of the performers.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Gina told the Wild Hunt. “It was truly a magical experience. So many of my Pagan musical heroes all in one place! I do believe it forged not just a few friendships, and we’ll be hearing musical collaborations for years from the connections that were forged at Caldera.”