Calgary’s Chasing Summer Music Festival reverses all-ages decision

The 2016 Chasing Summer music festival, held at the Max Bell Centre. Facebook / Chasing Summer

A few months after making a contentious change to the age limit of the Chasing Summer Music Festival, organizers are refunding tickets sold to concertgoers under the age of 18.

In February it was announced that the 2018 Chasing Summer Music Festival — an electronic music festival held at the grounds outside the Max Bell Arena — would be opened up to all ages. In the past, it had only been open to music lovers 18 and older.

The change sparked widespread criticism, including from one Calgarian who created one of two petitions urging organizers to reverse the change.

READ MORE: Petition opposes Chasing Summer festival changing to all-ages event

“The EDM (electric dance music) festival brings out a lot of adults, it brings out a lot of drinking and unfortunately, elicit drug use,” Ben McMaster said at the time.

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Chasing Summer has gained a reputation in Calgary after more than a dozen people were hospitalized for substance abuse during the two-day events in recent years. The festival also wouldn’t let festival-goers bring naloxone kits onto the grounds despite a plea from Alberta Health Services.

In a statement on its Facebook page Friday, Chasing Summer said the festival has been made 18+ once again after “consultation with our regulatory partners.”

“Chasing Summer 2018 will once again be an 18+ event with a site-wide alcohol licence as it has in past years,” the statement reads.

“Chasing summer will continue to work with local authorities to bring electronic dance music to fans of all ages in the future.”

McMaster and his friends welcome the change.

He said he’d heard from many festival-goers who were concerned about safety, but also simply wanted to attend a festival that was 18+. He said he spoke to many of them who were relieved and excited about the development on Friday.

“You can have all the safety measures in place, lots of places do, but things still happen,” McMaster said. “The community just doesn’t want to take that risk.”

READ MORE: Music festivalgoers urged to bring drug overdose kits

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In February, McMaster had said he likely wouldn’t attend this year’s festival. Friday’s change is leading him to change his mind.

“It’s great. I’m happy with it, I’m super excited that they changed it,” he said. “I don’t know if it was because of the petitions or because of the outpours… I think everybody as a whole got to say their opinion and they finally listened to that opinion.”

Those under the age of 18 that purchased tickets were directed to fill out a refund request form or receive a refund at their point of purchase until July 1.

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