A year after leaving Fort Myers for the Fort Lauderdale area, the annual Fort Rock music festival has been canceled.
“The festival is not happening in 2019, and we have no further information to share at this time,” event publicist Kristine Ashton-Magnuson said in an email to The News-Press. “At this time, there are no plans for the festival to return.”
Organizer Danny Wimmer Presents wasn’t available for comment Wednesday. It’s unclear if the cancellation was due to ticket sales at new venue Markham Park in Sunrise or if there were other factors.
Also: Fort Rock responds: Why we’re moving to Fort Lauderdale
Scenes from Fort Rock in Fort Myers
Trevor Fell, senior park manager at Markham Park, said he was disappointed in the news — especially after the April 28-29 fest had seemed to be such a success. He estimates about 13,000 to 14,000 people attended on each of its two days.
“I thought the festival went great,” Fell says. “I think it’s a shame that it’s not coming back. Everybody seemed to have a good time.
“I don’t know if the attendance had anything to do with it or if it was where it needed to be or not.”
Fort Rock spent five years at JetBlue Park in south Fort Myers and booked big-name rock and metal bands such as Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Def Leppard and Soundgarden.
The fest started as a one-day event in 2013 and sold out every year with about 13,000 people attending. In 2016 it expanded to two days and — although it didn’t quite sell out — organizers said it came close.
The festival’s move to Markham Park sparked an outcry from fans, and more than 1,300 comments piled up under Fort Rock’s Facebook posts announcing the new venue — mostly negative.
“Fort Rock was the one thing my family looked forward to every year,” wrote Ryan Russell of Lehigh Acres. “You are destroying a wonderful thing that brought an entire community together.”
Danny Wimmer Presents and co-organizers AEG Presents haven’t formally announced the cancellation of the 2019 Fort Rock, and its Facebook page and website haven’t been updated.
Fort Rock and its sister festival, Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, usually announce their lineups at the same time. But after announcing the Rockville lineup Monday, there hasn’t been a word from Fort Rock.
In April, John Valentino of AEG Presents told The News-Press that Fort Rock needed to move to a bigger venue and metropolitan area to keep growing.
“We really enjoyed our time in Fort Myers and the Southwest Florida area,” he said. “But if you look around the country at the size of some of these events, they’re 20,000 to 35,000 people (per day), a lot of them. And we just couldn’t accommodate or grow into that.”
JetBlue Park could only handle about 15,000 people per day, Valentino said. Markham Park’s Special Event Field, meanwhile, can hold about 60,000.
Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram).
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