Mother Nature wiped out the final day of the controversial Great GoogaMooga festival in Prospect Park on Sunday, and some of the event’s independent vendors say planners’ cancellation of the rain-or-shine event have put them out lots of GoogaMoolah.
The massive weekend-long event kicked off last Friday and, despite its stated “rain-or-shine” policy, it was shut down on Sunday due to a downpour about an hour after revelers flocked to Brooklyn’s backyard. The Parks Department, Prospect Park Alliance, and Superfly Presents, the event’s organizer, decided to abruptly cancel the rainy last day of the festival “in the interest of safety and prevention of damage to park grounds.”
That prompted some of the vendors who were counting on selling food at the event to hit the Twittersphere to complain of the money they were now going to lose.
“I’m going to wait a couple of days in good face to the organizer and give them a chance to sort of rectify the situation,” said Jeremy Spector, proprietor of The Brindle Room, a Manhattan restaurant, who had dished out his signature burgers at the festival, and claimed the cancelation cost him $15,000.
Organizers have already issued refunds to the hundreds of “VIP” ticket holders who shelled out $79.50 for the premium pass. They are also refunding leftover $1 drink tickets for beer and wine. Most of the event-goers got free Saturday and Sunday tickets through a raffle. It is unclear if the vendors who reportedly lost thousands of dollars in products and sales will be reimbursed.
“We are in the process this week of speaking with each vendor and collecting their data to assess each individual situation in our effort to find financial solutions,” said Jonathan Mayers, cofounder of Superfly. He said most of the unused food went to food banks and food pantries including the Food Bank for New York City and the Bowery Mission.
Mayers said that ultimately it was the decision of the Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance — which made $75,000 off the gigantic event — to call it off for the park’s sake.
Not everyone was upset the last day of the three-day festival was canceled.
“Everyone suffered losses, but you can’t predict Mother Nature,” said Susan Povich, owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound, who served up the Van Brunt Street joint’s famed lobster rolls at the fest. “And if you’re in the outdoor event business, you roll the dice. You can’t stop the rain.”
And Greenspace activists, who claim that damage from last year’s inaugural GoogaMooga has still not been fixed, said that it was the right move to shut down the blowout. Still, they claimed damage had already been done, thanks to the tractor-trailers unloading equipment and the more than 40,000 foodies and music lovers who descended upon the park Friday and Saturday.
“Right now they are starting to remove things, but you can definitely see tire tracks and marks [in the grass], which is understandable because of the location and also the weather,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of the New York City Park Advocates. “This is not the right location — the impacts are far too great.”
Superfly organizers said that they will pay to fix whatever damage is done.
GoogaMooga attendees reported that this year’s extravaganza did not show any signs of last year’s debacle, which saw extremely long lines and shortages of grub and booze. Organizers even refunded last year’s VIP ticket holders who paid $250 for the exclusive pass.
“It was awesome,” said Emily Paolillo of Sheepshead Bay, who volunteered as a bike valet on Friday to get a free ticket for Saturday. “Drinks, music, and food are my life.”
Paolillo said that she did not wait longer than five minutes for tasty treats costing between $8 to $12, such as a pulled pork slider, pastrami sandwich, or a truffle burger.
Superfly organizers said that they hope to bring the festival back to Prospect Park next year.
“Our intentions with GoogaMooga are to bring a great event to this iconic space, celebrate local businesses, and bring people together,” said Mayers. “It’s a challenging event, but we’re doing it for the right reasons.”
The second-annual extravaganza of music, drink, and food was held on the greenspace’s Nethermead Field. It boasted food stands from 85 New York restaurants and musical performances from an array of big-time bands, such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Matt and Kim.