By Evie Fowler
The highly anticipated Pilgrimage Festival was quickly brought to a halt when strong rain storms hit the city at the end of September. With drama regarding the refund process and allegedly overly-aggressive security guards, many wonder: will Pilgrimage be able to continue in the coming years?
Pilgrimage Festival is an annual Americana, singer-songwriter, country-folk music festival sponsored by Kevin Griffin (formerly of Better Than Ezra) and Justin Timberlake in Franklin, Tennessee. The festival was set to take place at Harlinsdale Farm on Sept. 22 and 23 when rain storms and lightening hit the town midday Saturday, cutting the day short before any of the headliners had taken the stage. The once adorable, trendy farmland full of music enthusiasts and acts as big as Hozier and Jack White, was quickly turned into a mud pit complete with frantic people searching for places to take cover from the rain. During the chaos of the evacuation, attendees’ belongings like chairs and cars were left on the land. Allegedly, security guards even yelled phrases like “Leave or you’ll die!” in a desperate attempt to encourage people to leave faster. According to posts on social media, these phrases led to nothing but harm when two small children thought that the guard was serious and broke into tears. To add insult to injury, many of those who went to their cars stated that they were not allowed to leave the parking lots until all pedestrians had evacuated. Unfortunately, this pedestrian evacuation lasted much longer than expected, and several cars became stuck in the mud.
Saturday night and Sunday, when the festival was called off, Pilgrimage’s Instagram was in uproar with angry patrons wanting their money back. Some even went so far as to completely blame the festival for the chaos when in actuality, the city of Franklin made the decision to cancel the remainder of the festival as a result of the dangerous weather conditions. Fortunately, despite the outrage, there were humorous posts as well.
After all of this, it appears that the festival will be able to gracefully push through the drama and has been regularly updating its social media feeds with information regarding refund and property return policies for lost items. Pilgrimage Festival is refunding 75% back for two-day passes, 75% back for two-day parking passes, 50% back for one day Saturday passes, and 100% back for one day Sunday passes, which appears to have appeased most of the frustrated concert-goers.
In addition to these refunds, the food vendors from the festival will be donating the food that they did not serve to GraceWorks Ministries. The non-profit is very excited to be receiving these contributions, including non-alcoholic beverages, as they do not usually receive such large donations.
All in all, this festival is a wonderful event that music fans enjoy and have come to rely on for a weekend of outdoor fun. Despite the weather and issues it presented, this year’s event definitely was a weekend to remember. Hopefully, the Pilgrimage planning committee has not only learned from this year’s mistakes but also feels the unflagging support of its fans because many music lovers are already looking forward to next year’s Pilgrimage Festival! #MakeThePilgrimage