Sept. 13--Lockn' Festival organizers Thursday called the event a success, but said it lost money and they aren't ready to commit to another large-scale music festival in Nelson County next year.
About 25,000 people attended the four-day event, which ended Sunday at the Oak Ridge Estate in Arrington. The festival was expected to generate $1.6 million in tax revenues for the county, Lockn' spokeswoman Olivia Branch said in a statement. About 53 percent of ticket sales were from outside Virginia.
Festival co-organizer Dave Frey said first-year expenses kept the event from turning a profit. Based on his decades of experience organizing and producing large music festivals, Frey said, he anticipated a potential loss.
"The first year, you have things like temporary fencing," he said. "You don't drill wells. You bring in water. You have these expenses that are pretty significant, and once you see what works and what doesn't work, that's when you can make a much better analysis of permanent infrastructure."
Frey said organizers expect to decide by late November whether the festival will return.
"It's hopefully an acceptable loss, and we kind of planned for a loss. ... I think anybody in our position would be doing [a review]," Frey said.
The event featured such acts as Grace Potter, The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Zac Brown, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Hackensaw Boys. Neil Young and Crazy Horse last month canceled a scheduled appearance after guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro broke his hand.
Fans streamed in from points across the national map for the first day, Sept. 5, some getting stuck in traffic that stretched for two miles on U.S. 29. The event Facebook page quickly filled with comments from angry festivalgoers. The county Sheriff's Office said some overwhelmed volunteers walked off.
"Parts of the traffic plan worked and parts of it didn't, and that will change if we do it again," Frey said. "That's got to be fixed, and everybody realizes it, down the line."
Frey said he handed out about 40 cases of water, apologized and offered refunds to some of those stuck at the gates.
Feedback otherwise has "been overwhelmingly positive and constructive," Frey said.
County Sheriff David Brooks said in the statement that no serious crimes were reported. Authorities did not return calls seeking further information. Frey said authorities only made about a dozen arrests.
Area tourism officials said they were pleased by the event.
"Typically, the weekend after Labor Day is a slow time for tourism related businesses, so the Lockn' Festival created new traffic and revenues for many hospitality related businesses, with the potential for repeat business," Maureen Kelly, Nelson's County's director of economic development and tourism, said by email.
Area lodging was 90-percent booked during the event, Kelly said.
"Without a doubt ... Lockn' brought in a significant influx of visitors to our area," Bri Warner, a spokeswoman for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in an email. "Looking at the cars parked at the festival, one could see license plates from all over the country. This represents a huge economic impact for the region."
About 80 percent of festivalgoers camped on site, and most made an effort to recycle and dispose of their trash properly, Branch said.
"We're trying our best not to leave any footprint," Branch said.