Highly promoted hip hop and R&B festival postponed, ticket holders wait for refunds

A hip hop and R&B festival, which was set to take place next month, has been postponed after the headline act pulled out of the event. Fans say they’re still waiting for refunds for tickets they purchased. Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

Last June, a massive festival took over Downsview Park in Toronto featuring some of the biggest names in hip hop and R&B like Nelly, Akon and several others. Named “Hot In Herre” after Nelly’s hit song, thousands of people packed the park for a day full of music, food and other entertainment.

Organizers for the event, Festivals of Vaughan, called it a success but promised to do even better in 2024.

Fans eagerly waited to learn about plans for 2024 and got the news earlier this year when Festivals of Vaughan announced a new event called ‘Hot in Toronto’ with headliner Lil Wayne, a popular American rap artist. News outlets began picking up the story and on Instagram, organizers posted links on how to buy tickets, which ranged from $240 for general admission, and VIP tickets were going from $350 all the way up to $13,500.

But then festival organizers got some bad news. Lil Wayne was no longer able to come. They notified fans, many of whom were frantic, demanding answers as to what happened and to find out if another big name act would be taking over.

“Is this still happening?” one fan commented on Instagram. The numerous comments received no response.

“This event has taken over $1,000 of people’s money (multiple people) and cancelled their main event, now they’re ignoring everyone about what is going on,” Vanessa Stoyanoff said via email, asking Speakers Corner to try and get answers.

“For the last month they’ve ignored people’s calls, texts and emails. They’ve taken money from people’s mouths and bills for an event that may not happen and again for the last month they refuse to give anyone updates,” Stoyanoff wrote.

The Speakers Corner team also had trouble getting in touch with organizers as texts, Instagram messages and phone calls were not returned. So, we reached out to the media relations department for Downsview Park to see if the festival was still planned at the venue.

“Please contact the organizer directly with your questions,” communications manager Karen Vuong told CityNews. “We have tried multiple times,” CityNews replied. “But nobody is answering.”

A day later, we received an email from the organizer saying Downsview Park had notified them of our inquiry. Festivals of Vaughan answered all of our questions.

“Fans purchased tickets based on the lineup we posted, which has changed dramatically. To be clear, all artists were fully contracted and deposits were paid. Unfortunately, Lil Wayne is no longer able to perform at our event,” a spokesperson for Festivals of Vaughan told CityNews.

“We hope to get everyone their money back ASAP and announce a bigger and better rescheduled date soon.”

Festival organizers

Organizers say due to non-disclosure agreements (NDA), they could not say why Lil Wayne dropped out but it began a frantic search, behind the scenes, to find another big name act to headline.

“When a festival loses its main headliner it causes a lot of problems as fans have purchased tickets and expect to see the artists they paid for. We tried to find a replacement headliner but we were unable to find someone on short notice.”

Organizers say they had no choice but to postpone the June 22 festival.

“A new date will be announced as we are working with some artists and partners to reschedule.”

Organizers ask fans to be patient as they await refunds

But fans remain angry. More so on what they say has been a lack of communication from the festival team, especially when they asked if refunds will be issued for tickets purchased.

“All fans will be offered a refund. Fans need to be patient. We understand they are mad, and want their money back. We get it. Trust me, nobody is more disappointed in this than our team that worked on this all year, especially after a successful inaugural festival last year.”

Organizers went on to ask people to stop emailing and calling them.

“Fans sending multiple emails, calling our personal phone lines, and somehow finding out where we live is not OK. It is just going to cause more delays,” the spokesperson said.

Organizers say ticket holders should keep an eye on their inbox as emails will be sent soon.

“Ticket holders will be sent a communication with instructions on how to obtain a refund in the next week or so since we setting up a process for our team to make it easier and faster to get everyone their money back.”

They also asked fans not to do chargebacks on their credit cards.

“When fans do chargebacks many things happen: We have to manually void their tickets, which takes time, and we have to respond to all the disputes which takes a lot of time. The chargebacks cause problems with our processing merchant. Including the merchant classifying us as high risk, and suspending and cancelling our account, which means we have no way to process refunds since our account gets closed. This is actually happening right now, and if it continues it will drastically delay the process.”

As for a new festival, organizers could not say how far or close they are from announcing details but say they are working frantically to line up something. For those who wish to wait, tickets purchased can be used in any future event announced.

Organizers say they’re working hard to plan another festival but are still dealing with the shock of losing their headliner.

“To be honest, we still don’t know what happened. As mentioned, Lil Wayne’s team said he was no longer able to perform at our show. It is hard to recover from losing your headlining artist and since it is such a busy weekend no major artists were available,” the spokesperson said. “We hope to get everyone their money back ASAP and announce a bigger and better rescheduled date soon.”

If you have an interesting story, question or issue that you would like us to look into, contact us.

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