‘You feel like you’re being held hostage:’ Havelock Country Jamboree ticket-holders demand answers, refunds

·2 min read

Angry, confused and in search of answers, Havelock Country Jamboree ticket-holders say they’re being kept in the dark about the fate of this year’s festival.

“It’s just frustrating. People want answers,” said Mark Shaw, a Kingston resident who shelled out $650 for a pair of tickets and a campsite reservation.

Over the last few months, with no lineup announcement and no clear indication as to whether the festival is even happening, ticket-holders like Shaw have become increasingly frustrated with organizers. Scores of festival-goers say their calls and emails have gone unanswered.

Organizers promised to make a statement at the end of May, leading Shaw to hold out hope his beloved summer festival, set to run from Aug. 18 to 21, would still take place.

The latest post to the Havelock Country Jamboree’s website, however, has prompted even more questions from roiled fans.

“We recognize that you want answers as to whether there will be a 2022 or 2023 show and as to a refund process and we hope to have those answers soon,” reads the post.

“We certainly have not forgotten you but don’t want to give you a statement that is incomplete,” it concludes.

Ticket-holder Patrick Gerard called the statement a “joke.”

Since the fall of 2020, Gerard, who lives outside of Gatineau, has been trying to get a refund on the $880 he spent on tickets earlier that year following a schedule conflict.

Festival organizers pledged to honour tickets bought for the 2020 and 2021 festivals after both were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Gerard said he’s made dozens of attempts to reach organizers to no avail.

“I tried everything I possibly could to get their attention. It’s been a complete lack of responsiveness — radio silence,” he said.

“You feel like you’re being held hostage.”

Ashley Brooke of Bancroft, who spent $1,110 on tickets and camping expenses, said she just wants a straight answer.

“At this point, is it a-go? Is it not? Who knows. I’m more frustrated now that they won’t tell us what’s going on. If it’s not going to happen, be upfront with your fans. We just want answers,” Brooke said.

Shaw, Gerard and Brooke — all members of a 1,700-member Facebook group that’s given ticket-holders a place to share their experiences — said they would take part in a class-action lawsuit to recover their money if one is launched. Several members of the online group have expressed exploring such legal avenues.

The Examiner was not able to reach festival organizers for comment.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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