Should Fans Be Surprised By Roxodus Cancellation?

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Rock fans who made plans to attend the inaugural Roxodus festival in Ontario are fuming after the event was cancelled early Wednesday.

As first reported here, organizers blamed wet weather. “During the past couple of months, our venue at Edenvale Aerodrome has battled tremendous rainy weather that has impacted our ability to produce the festival,” read a statement from organizers MF Live Inc.

MF Live Inc. takes its name from the first initials of festival co-founders Mike Dunphy and Fab Loranger.

Roxodus is the pair’s second event to be scrapped this year. In March, they announced they were postponing their annual Wasaga Beach Motorcycle Rally. “This great rally is taking a nap for this year and will come back bigger and better in 2020,” read a statement on Facebook.

Ontario Provincial Police told CTV News an investigation was launched last week into a complaint against a former MF Live Inc. employee but did not reveal the person's name nor suggest any connection to the cancellation.

MORE: Roxodus Joins Graveyard Of Canadian Music Fests

Milan Kroupa, owner of the Edenvale Aerodrome, told Barrie Today that Loranger asked him on Tuesday if he wanted to buy 137 acres of land adjoining the airport that was purchased last year in anticipation of the festival.

On social media, many fans are suggesting the organizers' reason for the Roxodus exodus is all wet.

Weather data for Edenvale indicates there was 58.8 mm of precipitation in June and 81.7 mm in May. Only 18.7 mm of rain fell between June 26 and July 2 (and only 0.2 mm after June 30). The forecast calls for 4.8 mm of precipitation between now and the festival’s scheduled first day – with five days of sun and temperatures in the mid- to high-20s.

Wednesday morning’s announcement from Roxodus organizers promised "information about ticket refunds will be released shortly.”

Still, fans are expressing concerns on social media. Ticket buyers agreed to terms and conditions published on the Roxodus website that state the event can be scrapped “without ... any obligation to issue a refund or reschedule the Festival” if due to “events outside the Company’s control.”

(On social media, some ticket buyers have said they were able to receive refunds from their credit card providers.)

Roxodus performers, including Aerosmith, Nickelback, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd have already been paid in full, Dunphy said in March. Last month, he said 20,000 passes had been sold to the festival.

Tickets ranged from $129 for single day general admission to $639 for a four-day VIP pass. Organizers also sold camping packages priced between $219 and $1,600; parking from $49 to $119; and shuttle bus services from nearby towns.

Neither Dunphy or Loranger were available for comment.

MORE: Roxodus Music Festival's Fab Loranger Stays Silent

A May 8th press release quoted Dunphy boasting about a “legendary” festival with an “extraordinary” line-up, “games and rides” and food from celebrity chefs like Massimo Capra and Lynn Crawford. “We plan to make this an annual event and set the stage for many years to come,” he said.

At a Clearview council meeting in March, Dunphy and Loranger said they expected 40,000 fans. Dunphy promised “some type of compensation” for local residents inconvenienced by the festival, a “surge” for local businesses, and over $40,000 in donations to local charities.

“With all due respect, this is not my first rodeo. We have done everything by the book,” said Dunphy, according to the Creemore Echo. “We are not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.”

MORE: Ontario's Roxodus Music Festival Cancelled

But, were there warning signs? Although the festival was a production of MF Live Inc., records show the Roxodus domain was registered on Oct. 23, 2018 by Dauphin Media Group, a now-defunct company run by Dunphy.

Dauphin Media Group published magazines like Canadian Architecture & Design and North of 89.

In 2012, Dunphy blamed a lack of capital for his decision to shut down Dauphin Media Group and cease publication of NFL Magazine.

“We were just too small,” he told The Star.

The move came only months after Dauphin Media Group shuttered its Toronto office – owing about $5,000 in rent – and folded Holmes, The Magazine after collecting an estimated $500,000 in prepaid subscriptions.

Earlier this year, MF Live Inc. was recruiting a senior graphic designer for Roxodus, offering “$50 to $60 per hour” and a social media specialist at up to $60,000 a year.

Whispers of problems in the planning of Roxodus have been heard for weeks (MF Live Inc. only secured approval for a temporary zoning bylaw amendment and special events permit from the township on June 19) but ticket sales were only suspended late Tuesday.

In an interview published on June 14, Dunphy spoke to FYI Music News about the poor track record of music festivals.

“Some fail because of lack of funding, planning, or a variety of other reasons,” he said. “We have tried to build a business plan that gives us the best chance of success. We have partnered with the best in the business and visited successful festivals. We are going in with eyes wide open.”

Asked if Roxodus will become an annual event, Dunphy said “absolutely” and revealed: “We have been approached by larger festivals in the US to consider our site as a possible venue for them in 2020.”

This optimism was evident a month earlier, when Dunphy insisted Roxodus was happening.

“We’re not in this for one and out,” he told the Toronto Sun. “That’s why we stuck to that 35-plus (demographic) that has the disposable income, over the younger crowd that has saved up for the whole year.

“We’re already planning for year two.”