The Blue Ridge Rock Festival was the biggest event in the history of Pittsylvania County, with at least 30,000 people attending it every day. The first day of it brought a lot of complaints among some in the area and even those attended, but most major issues seemed to get resolved and after the event the Pittyslvania County government issued a statement praising it. Last night the CEO of Blue Ridge Rock Festival issued a statement that he may now retire, believing to have failed to make a good enough event for people. Here is his statement:
Good Evening,My name is Jon Slye, CEO of Blue Ridge Rock Festival. There is a lot to address, so I will get right into it.
I am writing to you today with a very heavy heart, for a multitude of reasons. I will start by sharing that I have not logged into social media for over a week. This gesture was not done in an attempt to “hide”, but rather in an effort to do all I could to focus on improving the situation at the Festival, as well as now creating as much resolve as possible here in the aftermath.
I have heard my social media absence has sparked many rumors. Contrary to what the internet might tell you, I have been living on the Festival Grounds for the greater part of the last three weeks. I would never have had it any other way. I have made a commitment to each of you, and will continue working until the final bell to deliver in any capacity possible. It has been an honor to watch as the mission of this Festival has grown like wildfire. With each statement and video that I have done, I have become increasingly humbled to see the response develop, and more importantly – the opportunity to foster relationships with more and more of you. All of this culminated with the surreal moment of Blue Ridge Rock Festival selling out just four days after our full lineup announcement.
As the leader, you must be there for the hills…as well as the valleys. During the Festival, I watched first-hand in horror during the ingress and egress issues. I stood at the camping terminal and watched the situation unfold there as well. I was right there with you. I could not engage with you, when I so desperately wanted to. This Festival, and each of you, have meant more to me than words could ever express. I started both Thursday and Friday mornings physically ill due to all that you were going through. I have developed deep relationships with many of you through Blue Ridge. In my mind, what took place was hurting friends and family, not “customers”.
Many fans have asked me why it took a little bit before the major problems were solved with the Festival. To answer that I will start with this: The planning for this particular Festival is different than any other I have ever done. Previously, I was completely integrated into every single facet of the event. This year, after many years of hearing the word “delegate”, I knew the time was right to expand our personnel deployment. Before tickets even went on-sale this year, it was clear the Festival was taking off. I knew it was time to attempt to focus on the elements of the business that I did best, and to provide the proper infrastructure within the event to ensure a high-quality experience for each of you. This is why on Facebook Lives in recent months, I had to check with different departments to provide accurate information, particularly when it was not Festival Arena or Artist related. I ultimately had well over 1,000 staff, contractors, and companies that were involved in this year’s Festival. The mistake lies here: With the organization’s expansion, I failed to properly integrate myself within many of the departments that go into a Festival’s operation. I never stopped working, of course, but I should have been far more plugged in to all these areas. Due to COVID, all of the personnel involved in the Festival were quite literally headquartered all over the country and had never met each other before, certainly complicating operations a bit. I should have been more proactive in addressing these issues head on, and for that I also apologize. Ultimately, all of this led me to seeing the problems spill out with the Festival, but not knowing where to start to help remedy them. Let me tell you. For me, there was seemingly no worse feeling than seeing the challenges you were facing first-hand, but struggling to know where to begin to solve them. I am a fixer by nature, and to feel like I was stuck on the sideline is something that I never want to do again. My failure to know the ins and outs of key sections of the Festival, thus further hindered my ability to expediently solve issues and protect the experience of you the fans day of.
I take full responsibility for the failures that were experienced by some at Blue Ridge Rock Festival. My heart absolutely breaks hearing and seeing what some of you went through. We gave it our best, but your best simply is not always good enough. We made mistakes as a company, and for that I sincerely apologize. Please forgive me for failing to deliver the Festival you deserved. If you need to reach us for any reason, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be working with our customer support team and volunteers to do everything in our power to make this right for you.
ADA: We were completely overwhelmed in this department. According to ticket sales, we only had several hundred ADA ticketholders for Blue Ridge. Come day of show, we were quickly floored as several thousand, not hundred, ADA attendees were present. Moving forward – We are providing every ADA ticketholder for 2021 with complimentary full weekend passes for Blue Ridge 2022. Furthermore, as we know your trust with us has been understandably hurt by all of this, we have confirmed a leading ADA company for Festivals that will manage all aspects of the ADA portion of the Festival to ensure the experience you deserve.
Septic Tank Issue: There was a holding tank on-site near the campgrounds that was improperly serviced by our portable toilet vendor that led to a leak. We were informed late Friday evening and took immediate action. All campers affected were offered a hotel room for the remainder of the weekend, provided a private shuttle to/from the venue, given full refunds, monetary compensation for all damaged items, reimbursement for car wash and were upgraded to VIP.
Camping: We actually did not oversell camping. Two things happened 1) 2,000 more campsites were filled then what we had sold. In other words, we sold 5,700 campsites. Yet, we ultimately filled 7,700 campsites. That leads to point # 2) The camping check-in was not properly policed, thus resulting in campsites being filled with non-camping ticketholders, as well as initially many campsites on-site being looked over and not filled. After the Thursday date of the Festival, the Parking Company reported to us that nearly 600 campsites had not been filled on-site.Food Lines: If you rewind a couple of months ago, our Vending Company had filled every slot for this year’s festival, and had a massive waiting list on deck. Fast forward to a couple weeks prior to the Festival…we had vacancies on our on-site vendor list, and the waiting list was completely gone. At the end, even for a sold out festival, we could not get as many food vendors as we wanted present. Food vendors backed out due to concerns regarding the Festival actually taking place due to COVID, as well as finding enough labor to work it.
My Father/Family: It has been advised of me to not address this particular erroneous rumor, but for better or for worse, I cannot idly standby when it comes to family. It has been brought to my attention that fans have uncovered a couple of articles from 2008 pertaining to a ponzi scheme. These stories incorrectly pin my dad as the “John Slye” that was a part of that criminal operation. Those articles were made in error, and ultimately retraction statements were aired. My dad was not at all involved in this scheme. In the official court document, the “John Slye” that was responsible and testified was a 68 year old man. That would mean that the criminal is in his 80’s today. My dad is currently in his 50’s at present, not his 80’s. I was fourteen at the time that this story of mistaken identity played out. I vividly recall the voicemails and threats we received as a family until the truth was revealed. It was an extremely painful time for my father. Of course, this week it resurfaced due to the attention surrounding myself. You cannot imagine the pain I feel as a son for being responsible for my family reliving this. In the future, I ask that all of your anger, frustration, animosity towards me, not my family. My parents volunteered at Blue Ridge last weekend. They worked 20 hour days, all week long, and assisted many of you directly. That, however, is the extent of their involvement. Yes, I am a merely a young guy with big dreams, but those aspirations have a responsibility – and I am here to accept that.
“What in the world happened the first two days at Blue Ridge Rock Festival?” – I plan to return to social media in the next couple days. I will follow that with a Facebook Live Video in the BLUE RIDGE ROCK FEST FAN ZONE providing more detail here. Despite the massive impact of COVID, Hurricane Ida, and labor shortages – we continued to overcome. Just prior to the Festival, a judge ruled that the Festival was “exceptionally well planned”. Yes, the Artist Lineup was stellar, but we invested far more into personnel and infrastructure to ensure the planning and execution was stronger than ever. Bottom Line: The planning was. The execution was not. I am sorry to all of those I disappointed or hurt.
I am sorry for those who believed in me, and felt betrayed. That is never the person I strive to be. I wake up every day and sacrifice a lot to be the best leader I can be for you. I apologize to those that were looking for this to be a mental health release, and felt it only sparked more anxiety in you. That hurts my heart greater than you can imagine. We had everything, and the kitchen sink, thrown at us this year. The stories of hurdles are almost inconceivable. Yet, due to the amazing work of so many staff and volunteers, we were ultimately able to persevere. Though we certainly failed at the beginning of the Festival, I am very proud of how we rebounded and finished strong. Things started off bleak, yes, but the team gave up sleeping and eating to lead to a second half of Blue Ridge that we could be proud of. The night and day difference from the start to the conclusion is a true testament to the amazing team around me that I do not deserve.
Thank you to those who continue to stand by us. Thank you to the incredible gauntlet of amazing Artists who performed with us this year. We received an overwhelming number of positive reviews from Artists, Agents, and Managers – far more than any other event in my career. It was quite a moment to look out from the top of the mountain to see 6 Stages, a Circus, and so many other aspects of this Rock n’ Roll universe brought to life in small town Virginia. Lastly, I would like to thank my Rock Family for giving me this opportunity. From a starting ticket price of $85, to more than 500 tickets given away to those who could not afford, to the cheapest alcohol pricing we could find for a festival – we did our best to advocate for you.
In closing… I started producing events a decade ago due to a passionate desire to impact lives positively through the unique power of music. I like to believe that I have been able to do that. Of all the genres that I produce concerts and festivals in, the Rock Community has been the closest for me. Over these last two years in particular, we have eclipsed one hurdle and challenge after another, together. Now, as I reflect on the biggest event of my career, I am unsure if I am fit to continue leading this. You deserve better than what I have given you, and perhaps more than I am even capable of providing you. If I cannot make a positive impact on lives, there is no point in doing it. That has been my position since I started. It is with this sentiment in mind, that I share that I am actively contemplating retiring as a Concert and Festival Promoter. I do not know what tomorrow brings, but rest assured, there is a good handful of public and private companies that are very interested in moving forward with Blue Ridge Rock. Regardless of how everything resolves, I have no doubt you will be in good hands for 2022 and beyond. I firmly believe “The Fan Driven Rock Experience” will one day grow to a Festival that embodies the vision I have had on my heart for so long. Sincerely,Jonathan Slye
This statement was put on Facebook and you can see the reaction and to comments on it with the post.
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