The reaction was swift and vitriolic as news of Hockeyfest’s cancellation spread online and across Brantford Wednesday morning.
“It’s uncalled for. They should have had all this sorted out,” said Alissia Miller, chatting with a group of disappointed friends in Harmony Square.
“I don’t think it’s right how they sold the tickets prior to knowing for sure what the hell was going on. A lot of people are mad. We as a community want to know whether or not it’s happening.”
All but one of the group had bought tickets to Hockeyfest. They are now skeptical that the event, which organizer Ralph Spoltore said has been postponed until further notice, will ever happen.
“It’s a scam – they’re taking our money,” said Kaya Folland.
The group’s discussion of fluctuating security numbers and changing locations reflected the mass of conflicting information that percolated from Spoltore and the city’s emergency services over the past week.
Brantford Downtown BIA program manager Annette Fitch feels for concertgoers whose weekend plans are scuttled, but is more concerned with the many Brantford business owners and Hockeyfest vendors who bought extra stock in anticipation of a busy weekend and are now hung out to dry.
“The ticket holders may eventually get their money back, but these vendors are out,” Fitch said.
Taryn Creighton, owner of the Tip Top Health Shoppe on Colborne Street, is staring at 13 boxes of energy drinks, protein bars and bug repellant that arrived Wednesday morning, adding up to a small room’s worth of extra stock she expected to sell to concertgoers this weekend.
“I’m still sort of reeling,” Creighton said. “I’m very disappointed. I know many people are.”
Creighton is working the phones to “turn lemons into lemonade” by connecting with the street hockey tournament also taking place this weekend. But her main market has vanished.
“I do feel that Ralph and Hockeyfest did their best. It’s disappointing that the city and police couldn’t come together and figure this out,” she said.
Tristan Curtis, who owns The Mixdown Record Shop on Dalhousie Street, sold tickets on behalf of Hockeyfest. He said he hasn’t heard from Spoltore and doesn’t know what to tell any customers who come in looking for refunds.
“I’m waiting to hear from Hockeyfest. I’m sitting on a few thousand dollars of theirs and I’d like to know what to do,” Curtis said. “I think that most of my customers are going to be pretty understanding, but you never know.”
Some music fans are less than understanding, taking to Twitter to vent about what Steph Paige called “the 12 steps of Hockeyfest…Excitement, sadness, hopeful, anger, optimism, but now? Just apathy. Sigh.”
Marilyne Comtois is one of many disgruntled fans who had planned to spend her weekend in Brantford.
“Was gonna come from Montreal, just to see Hedley. This is so not funny….way to ruin my summer!” she tweeted.
Lost revenue aside, Creighton is worried that the city’s image will take a hit.
“This is a huge stain on Brantford’s name,” she said. “We’ll never get another headliner here again – why would they (come)?”
Based on the conversation in Harmony Square, residents are already thinking along those lines.
“I think this is stupid. Brantford does this all the time. They say they’re going to do things, and then they don’t,” said Sarah Marshall.
“This is the whole reason Brantford is such a sad town – because they never pull through,” Miller said.
“Brantford, you disappoint me. Yet again. It really makes us look like undependable people. A city reflects its citizens, you know.”