WayHome music festival cancelled for 2018

Arcade Fire take the main stage at WayHome Music and Arts on July 23, 2016. The Canadian Press / WayHome Music & Arts Festival

The WayHome Music and Arts Festival will not be held in 2018 as organizers say they will work to “re-imagine” the event.

The three-day music festival launched in 2015 at the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ont., near Barrie, with headliners such as Neil Young, Sam Smith and Kendrick Lamar.

Last year, the festival drew more than 35,000 fans to see bands such as LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire and The Killers — while the event in late July featured performances by Frank Ocean and Imagine Dragons among others this year.

READ MORE: Ontario music festival WayHome revises policy on attendees bringing naloxone

“After much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to push pause on the 2018 edition, to allow us to reflect, re-assess and re-imagine the event,” Eva Dunford, co-founder of Republic Live, the company that produces the festival in Oro Medonte, Ont., said in a statement.

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“We want to thank all of our fans, artists, staff, vendors, sponsors, suppliers, partners, and community members. We sincerely appreciate your support and participation over the last three years to create a truly special festival.”

Festival organizers announced on the WayHome website they would be hitting “pause” on the festival in order to take a “much needed breath” that was “equal parts necessary and important,” but declined to comment further on the specifics of the hiatus.

Republic Live said in a statement it looks forward to producing numerous other concerts at Burl’s Creek throughout the summer of 2018, such as the Boots & Hearts festival that has already announced its lineup for next year.

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“The custom-designed 600+ acre site is beyond comparison to others in this area,” said David Cuddy, Chief Financial Officer of Republic Live.

“We have a huge opportunity to develop music and other events at Burl’s Creek and will focus on these prospects over the next year and into the future.”

READ MORE: Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem to headline WayHome festival

Oro Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes told Global News Tuesday he was not informed of the decision to end the festival.

“I didn’t know about it, but I do know that their attendance was down this year,” he said. “I’m sure it was a business decision … I don’t know the context of what else they may be offering.”

In 2015, local residents spoke out against the township for allowing the festival on land they claimed was zoned for agricultural use.

READ MORE: WayHome music festival to draw thousands despite disapproval of residents

Concerns about traffic gridlock and the safety of festivalgoers were also raised by some who said the event had not done enough to protect thousands who attended the event.

Hughes said there had been a small group of people who opposed the holding of events at Burl’s Creek in the past, but said events have been taking place there since 1980 and township staff had approved the event after assessing health and safety concerns.

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VIDEO: WayHome Festival goes ahead despite residents’ concerns

“There seems to be a group that has an agenda that has things to do with other than the concerts obviously,” he added.

“Because when you have something that’s been happening for that long and then all of a sudden there’s pushback, obviously there’s other things that are involved.”

Organizers would not confirm whether the festival would return in 2019, but added on their website “this isn’t goodbye, just see you later.”

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