Nearly two weeks after the sudden cancellation of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Rock Festival, attendees are still reeling from the unfortunate event in the form of widespread gastrointestinal illness.
The Virginia Department of Health has launched an investigation into how and why festival-goers are still dealing with the ailments weeks after the weekend festival was canceled due to severe weather concerns.
According to 10 News, some of those affected by the illness reported “unhygienic conditions,” largely related to the portable toilets at the festival. The Virginia Department of Health confirmed that the festival “violated numerous health orders,” but none of them were serious enough to cancel the event; The weather worries did that for them.
The health department also launched an online survey for all visitors to the festival, regardless of whether they had gastrointestinal complaints or not. “We ask all people who attended the festival to take part in this survey, even if they are not sick,” they said. “Collecting information about both those who are sick and those who are not sick helps us identify and evaluate differences between the two groups.”
ABC 13 reports that after the cancellation, Attorney General Jason Miyares said his office had been contacted by attendees with complaints about the festival. “Everything that comes into our office, we evaluate it on a case-by-case basis,” Miyares said earlier this week. “But I have a rule; Due to the nature of the sensitivity, I do not comment on whether any proceedings are pending.”
The health department’s investigation comes amid speculation that the festival was canceled not because of the storm, but because of a threatened strike by workers behind the scenes in protest at the festival’s poor working conditions. “There was absolutely nothing prepared for our arrival,” an anonymous stagehand told WDBJ7. “No showers, no toilets, no fences that were expected there, and much of that didn’t appear until dusk.”
In a new statement Friday, organizers denied that the festival was canceled for reasons other than weather concerns and asked for patience from fans still waiting for their refunds.
“Blue Ridge deeply regrets the unexpected turn of events that led to the cancellation of the festival,” the statement said. While the decision was difficult, it was made in collaboration with an emergency management team comprised of local, regional and state officials, as well as venue representatives. It was a collective decision made in the best interest of the safety of everyone, including participants, musicians and campers. Contrary to some claims, the decision was based solely on weather-related safety concerns.”
The organizers continued: “Due to a combination of internal considerations and external factors, we are unable to provide further details at this time, but look forward to doing so.” We thank you for your patience and understanding and will get back to you as soon as possible provide further information.”
While most of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival lineup was wiped out, some fans enjoyed an impromptu acoustic performance from Oliver Anthony, Papa Roach and Shinedown before leaving due to the health risk.