When life hands you a doomed Roxodus, you make a fun night of it anyway with people you don’t know and create Roxobust.
Last Wednesday morning, when the official announcement was made that the highly anticipated July 11-14 music festival was cancelled, a Facebook group called Roxodus: The Festival That Never Happened But More Than 20,000 Wished It Did was created in order to help spread information quickly among those affected. Many started to call the festival Roxobust and word got out that a gathering was going to happen starting at 6 p.m. at The Hangar restaurant at the Edenvale Airport, located west of Barrie, on Thursday night.
Melissa Haskett spent $555 on two tickets for the ill-fated festival in hopes of seeing all the legendary acts, but Alice Cooper and Billy Idol in particular.
The Wasaga Beach resident received her reimbursement from Eventbrite on Thursday morning, just in time for the evening of fun she helped organize at The Hangar restaurant.
“I knew everybody was going to be bummed out Thursday night, sitting at home or at a hotel room or campsite they had booked and knowing the concert would have gotten underway, so I figured why not try to turn this around and put a positive spin on it,” she said.
“We might as well all get together at The Hangar, have some drinks and food and make the best of a bad situation," Haskett added. "You also never know, we could be back here annually with a big Roxobust music festival.”
Haskett and more than 800 others have been communicating on the Facebook group, not only posting their anger and frustration over what happened with the once-in-a-lifetime festival being cancelled, but also posting their joy at being reimbursed if they have been and sharing pics of what they were doing leading up to July 11.
Haskett said she was thrilled at last night's turnout, which at one point was approximately 40 people
“We’ve become friends over the past week or so on the Facebook group and it is so awesome to meet everyone face to face,” she said. “The silver lining here is that most of the people I’ve spoken to has got their money back and has chosen to make light of it all.”
While a large number of people have received refunds thanks to ticket company Eventbrite, there are many questions still needing answered by the company that created the mess, MF Live, and the two men behind it, Mike Dunphy and Fab Loranger.
John Jensen and his wife, Joan, arrived from Alberta on Tuesday in keeping with their Roxodus plans. Jensen grabbed his $750 worth of tickets early and, as of yet, has not seen a return of his money.
The Red Deer native said he isn’t worried about it and wasn’t going to let it ruin any plans for a good time.
“We’re hopeful we’ll get the money back, but for now we had the vacation planned and there is no point sitting around doing nothing," he said. "We also have friends out this way so it all works out.
“We head home on the 16th and we’ll stay in this area for a bit before heading back down to Toronto," Jensen added. "It’s really nice here and will be good to check out the area.”
Hangar owner John Bors commended the Facebook group and its members for their hard work in getting the word out about Thursday’s meet-up, and he was glad they took the effort.
Bors says he's feeling better about the cancellation of the festival, which would have brought in somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 people to his establishment, because it still worked out from a tourism perspective.
“We had some women in here earlier today from England," he said. "Unbelievable that people were coming from all over the world to our little neck of the woods.
"I know it may be early for some to think about silver linings, but there are tons of people staying at inns, campsites and Blue Mountain who are going to put lots of money into our local economy and hopefully say good things about the region," Bors added.
In keeping with the rock theme, local band Bootlegged performed some classics and new music to a patio of fans. Lead singer Deb Nordeen told BarrieToday that she had tickets to Roxodus and, although she was reimbursed, she wanted to be a part of something special. She believes that happened Thursday night.
“We feel really bad for everyone. We also had tickets, so we know how people feel,” said Nordeen. “We volunteered our services here tonight when we saw the posting on Facebook about a get-together and we felt it just really needed some rock 'n' roll in light of what has happened.
"We’re here to make it grow and not try and give in to all the negativity that’s easy to get into.”