Complaints of overcrowding and lack of water

Evan Careen
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Ontario woman considering lawsuit after Salmon Fest

Centennial Park was packed and temperatures soared at the 2013 Toyota Salmon Festival.

Salmon Festival is over for another year and some people were not happy with their experience. Debbie Dwight came down from Ontario to take in the concert and has created a twitter account, Salmonfestfail, about her time in Grand Falls-Windsor.

She had a number of issues with the concert and said she is currently polling other people in the VIP section to possibly bring forward a class action lawsuit. One of the issues is over the amount of tickets sold for the VIP section.

She said she bought the tickets for the VIP section with the understanding there were 2500 sold. She figures there were about 10,000 people in that section.

"I later heard reports of 7,500 people in the area and that was certainly not what I was told or expected," she told the Advertiser. "It was awful. I was never afraid for my safety in 55 years before this and I attend concerts every month in the U.S. and Canada."

Dwight said she showed up early in the day with a lawn chair because she was told when she purchased the tickets there would be enough room. As the day wore on it became apparent this was not the case.

"We were told by other people to get out of our chairs, that chairs don't belong at concerts," she said. "People were pushing us, yelling at us, it was horrible."

She said she decided to go with the VIP tickets because she is claustrophobic and cannot handle being pressed in by large crowds.

At times throughout the day water became unavailable in the VIP sections and Dwight and a number of people other have commented on it so far with concerns.

"At 4 p.m. I went to get water and there was none," she said " The solution was to hose us down with water from a hose for an hour, to pummel us with water."

She said she understands the organizers want to make money but she felt it was too poorly organized and there were not enough vendors.

A number of people have commented on Dwight's twitter account and one of those was traceyforsey152, who said "@Salmonfestfail I was completely overwhelmed with the crowds and lack of water. My husband took me outside the VIP to get water. It was sad."

The Advertiser also received a number of comments regarding the concert on its website. Brenda Collins of Conception Bay South,  said "I spent over a thousand dollars in the Grand Falls area this past weekend to support your local economy. It won't happen next year and I hope other people will do the same thing and then maybe your town and organizers will get the message. I too will be going out of province to see performers like the Eagles. Grand Falls Windsor and the organizers showed no regard for people's heath and safety Saturday with the lack of water, overcrowding and disgusting food that cost way too much. The most frustrating thing is there seems to be no one accountable for the GREED and the concerns of the people at the concert on Saturday. Like I said my money will be spent elsewhere, which is really a shame. Hit you where it really hurts the most in the pocket book."

Dwight also said she saw people being carried out on stretchers as the day wore on and it seems paramedics also had issues getting through the crowd.

Dr. Jared Butler was a volunteer at the event and one of the coordinators of the medical tent and paramedics.

"There were challenges getting people to the medical tent quickly," he said. "Nothing that was unsafe, I want to stress that, but it did take longer to get through than we would have liked."

Butler said the staff and the RCMP were very helpful getting them through the crowd. He also said this was the busiest year he's seen.

"I've been doing this now since KISS came and this year was certainly busier," he said "If you count all the people who needed bandaids or just a cold cloth I would estimate we helped about 100 people."

Calls to the Town were not returned by press time. Monday was a civic holiday in the Town of Grand Falls.

The Advertiser did manage to reach Jack Livingston with SRO entertainment, the promoter of the event. Livingston said he would not be available until later in the week to provide information on the  numbers of tickets sold, both in VIP and the regular section. When asked about the complaints he said he would not be able to answer until later in the week but did have this to say: "If the people would have moved liked we asked we wouldn't have had these problems."

Dwight is now en route back to her home in Ontario and said the experience ruined her view of the province.

"People always told me the Newfoundland is such a beautiful place with such nice people," she said "We saw the worst of Newfoundland."

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Ontario, Grand Falls-Windsor, U.S. Canada Grand Falls Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • nflder who is living away
    July 26, 2013 - 10:12

    Hey NFLDER, before you start bashing and insulting people get the facts. There was not water , food, alchol allowed to be brought onto the concert grounds. The whole point of VIP tickets is to pay extra money to have prime seating, access to all ammedities without all the big lines and long waits andprevent from having to deal with idiots like yourself. I am a proud to say I am a Newfoundlander but at the same time embarrased to see the comments which are obviously confirmed by the comments posted here.

  • Concert Lover
    July 18, 2013 - 11:11

    GFW should be ashamed? Of what? The people of this beautiful peaceful town did nothing fact I rode around town Sunday morning only to see thousands of yards filled with campers trailers and tents.....our hospitality is alive and well thank you very much. As for concert bashing.....the ten people I went with and I all thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Each and every group performed fabulously and made my regular price ticket well worth the price of admission. Having said that, I am more than aware of the troubles some people had in the VIP go after the promoters, not the town or its people. Should you decide to return, I believe I speak for the townsfolk when I say that despite the bashing you have given us we will still welcome you back. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are of that same salt of the earth attitude.

  • fit to burn
    July 17, 2013 - 13:54

    We NL'ers think we are the nicest people in the world....NEWS FLASH! we are not. e are some of the worst people in North America! from our greedy ways and our belligerent attitudes towards other people it makes me sick. Some guy would say " if you were a man he'd lay you out" . disgusting

  • Enjoyed
    July 17, 2013 - 12:48

    There are always going to be problems with these kind of events. I did attend the concert this year and was not in the VIP section and had no problems...It was a great time!!

  • Devil's Advocate
    July 16, 2013 - 20:38

    I was not at salmonfest, but I've been to many huge out door venues (Ozzfest, Heavy MTL etc) It sounds like they were dreaming if they thought they could make a VIP section in the front of the stage, why would they even attempt such a thing. I prefer outdoor venues because they are free roaming, that's the point of an outdoor show. Another thing that sounds horrible, is that there were no drinking fountains set up? The shows I went to you could buy stuff, but there was always tap water available too so you could fill up your empty bottles. Free water should be available and required by law for such a venue, no wonder they were carrying people out on stretchers.

  • Beengoneawaytoolong
    July 16, 2013 - 17:17

    Kind of mixed on this. Its salmon fest. What the heck are these folks from ON thinking they are coming to with their lawn chairs? This is not exactly the Boston Pops here. Salmon Fest is a magnet for skeets and da byes back from Alberta wanting to get wasted. On the other hand... the eagles? Really? I'm 37 and they are too old for my tastes. No wonder you have seniors coming with lawn chairs. Although, I have to admit. Never thought I'd hear people complain that there wasn't enough 'water' at a Salmon Fest.

    • Folks from Ontario
      July 17, 2013 - 12:36

      Well, isn't that interesting commentary. "What are the folks from ON thinking?'. We'll maybe they were thinking that they could pay more than double the regular price of admission so that they could have an enjoyable concert without having to deel with skeets and people returning from Alberta just wanting to get wasted! It's time for a 37 year old like yourself togrow up a little and not concentrate on the getting wasted aspect of life. If all you think a concert is for is getting wasted, then surely you are missing some key life milestones.

  • FromGrandFallsWindsor
    July 16, 2013 - 10:50

    I think It was shameful what has happened this year at the festival but to say our town isnt big enough for this is crap, we have had the salmon fest here for over 20 years and there wasnt an issue, it was the promoters and town officials this time around that got greedy. It is not the people of grand falls windsor or of Newfoundland so to pile us together is unfair im sorry you had such a bad experience but dont be stupid and blame the people of the town.

    • JOHN
      July 16, 2013 - 17:56


    July 16, 2013 - 10:04

    You guys all sound like a bunch of babies. Babies who really need to learn to spell. Blaming a whole province for the mistake of one or two organizers is ridiculous and you don't fit into the province if that is your view anyway.

  • dave
    July 16, 2013 - 09:30

    If the promoter oversold the VIP section, then the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor should have every right to fire the promoter and withdraw from its 5 year contract with them. Sounds like the promoter messed up here big time and the town is left with crisis management. Fire the promoter, hire someone else with stricter and tighter regulations. You've got a good thing going in the Salmon Festival so don't let a greedy and unorganized promoter ruin it for you.

  • suck-it-up
    July 16, 2013 - 08:13

    Everone complaining about the crowd in the vip are living in a dream world. If you think 25 or 30 security are going to stop thousands of people from crowding the stage your cracked. Mabey you should go back to the 70's sing kumbaya and take the Eagles with you.

  • Jay
    July 16, 2013 - 07:57

    Behold the great Newfoundland tourism industry, where our so called hospitality is the first casualty to pettiness, greed, and, disorganization of pretty well any event which we host. I stopped going to the Salmon Fest years ago because of the same cutthroat mentality. The crowds weren't as big then, so it wasn't as obvious......but it was still there.

  • mellie
    July 15, 2013 - 22:32

    It would only take one nut to start a stampede and hundreds could be killed were is the safety what will it take a tragedy don't you think the same common sence should apply outdoors as indoors were are the regulators police fire marshaul

  • Paula Earle
    July 15, 2013 - 22:30

    I was very disappointed for what I thought I should have received by buying VIP tickets for the Salmon Fest. It was my first time at the Salmon Fest & I figured I would pay a little more & get the perks they said that I would get but if I had known I would not have went. First of all I abided by the rules & did not take in food, drink or booze so one would think that it would have been available. The first hour that I was there I thought hey this is great, not crowded & then I was able to get a bottle of water which I thought was overpriced @ 4.00 a bottle, then the crowd stared coming, they had us packed in like sardines, it took my husband 1 hour to go get some food & he could not get water because it was not available. It was my first trip out to Grand Falls for this event & it will be my last. If I knew who I had to contact I would demand a partial refund for such an inconvenience. On a positive note though, I thoroughly enjoy the line up that was on stage but if that had not been wonderful I would have left the concert.

  • Gene
    July 15, 2013 - 20:39

    This was our first and last Salmon feast we too had VIP tickets and were not allowed to take in one bottle of water after walking quite a distance to reach the concert area we had to purchase 2 bottles of water each at $4.00 per bottle that was just the start of the most horrible concert experience I and 6500 other people in the so called VIP section experienced. Grand Falls Windsor will never see a dollar from me or anyone belong to me ever again we were treated worse than animals. I will drive past there forever more to purchase gas, food or anything else

  • brandon
    July 15, 2013 - 20:35

    Like everything else! Greed takes over genuine Newfoundland hospitality. Grand falls Windsor fought over hosting the herder when it came down to greed over a few bucks local as opposed to hosting or the ability to host a major event properly. They failed at that and now have ruined what was a great event. Like everything else, St. John's will eventually compete and do it right and St. John's hospitality will rule. Next to St. John's is Corner brook hospitality followed by the great people of the south coast who also know how to show a great time.

  • Townie
    July 15, 2013 - 20:04

    Grand Falls simply isn't big enough to handle events of this magnitude.If large festivals are to continue in NlL then they need to hold them near the larger centres instead of some hick town in the middle of nowhere.

  • Joan
    July 15, 2013 - 19:42

    I was very disappointed with the Salmon Festival. Way too many people in the VIP area, lack of water, tracking through tons of people to get to the bathrooms which were both used by male and female (no distinction). I bought my tickets on the basis of 2000-2500 in the VIP area not 7000. I learned at the concert that an additional 4500 VIP tickets were sold. This was definitely false advertising or FRAUD in my opinion. This was my first and last trip to the Salmon Festival, I will spend my money elsewhere.

  • Nflder
    July 15, 2013 - 16:37

    Hey lady you attended an outdoor concert what did you aspect for a rock concert in an open field,was there reserve seating,if that's what you wanted you should stick with indoor functions,why did you not take your own water with you.claustrophobia andyou are attending a rock concert and hope you you are not going to be shoved around.Try visiting a seniors home if you want a nice relaxing afternoon,if are basing our beautiful prov,against a rock concert why you wouldnt want to visit again well we don't need your kind.

    • JOHN
      July 16, 2013 - 18:04

      your personality leaves a lot to be deisered

  • sparky
    July 15, 2013 - 16:05

    My first & last! Thanks for nothing.

  • George Smith
    July 15, 2013 - 15:46

    I was not at the concert. I did have VIP tickets that I had to sell a few days before due to a family emergency. Supposedly there where 2500 VIP tickets in the beginning. Concert organizers should have had an idea on the size of an area to accommodate 2500 people who where lead to believe that they could take in chairs and not feel crowded. That is why I bought VIP so that I would not have long lineups for refreshments, water, food and so that in particular my wife could sit in comfort and enjoy the show. If anyone from the general access area was allowed to enter the VIP section and create a feeling of over crowdedness than the concert promoters did not do a good job. Generally speaking if you pay for something you expect to receive it and if not you expect at least an explanation as to why things were not the way they should have been. I have heard that last year during Aerosmith there were issues with a lot of people "invading" so to speak the VIP section. Have attended 3 concerts in Moncton including U2 with approx 80,000 people. Each time I had VIP tickets and there was none of this foolishness!

  • B
    July 15, 2013 - 15:25

    Good job Jack.....nice to see you really care about the people, the ones who pay your salary......greedy "insert expletive word here"

  • John Verville
    July 15, 2013 - 15:12

    Dwight, I can understand your frustrations and like you, we hope the problem will be addressed before the next Salmon Festival. Now, as for running down Newfoundlanders, you are way out of whack here! Thousands of Newfoundlanders were just as you were and with good reason. However, I spent most of my life in Ontario, Ottawa actually, and I have seen some pretty bad concert or even some that were complete disasters but to base your experience at a Rock concert to assess your knowledge of the Rock is really sad... Maybe Ontario is your place to be. All the best to you my buddy!

  • Kim
    July 15, 2013 - 14:11

    I can understand the disappointment and frustration that Ms. Dwight must be feeling, but to condem our whole province is not really fair. I am quite sure she was not the only one frustrated with the event and unfortunately I bet that certainly did not add to the festivities. Take 30,000 people shove them in a small place where they cant eat, drink or pee with any sense now add 30 degree temperature in the mix not a good combination. The organizers of this concert should be placed under investigation for this fiasco, it is only by the grace of God that no one was badly injured. I hope Ms. Dwight does start a law suit and wins, would only serve them right. It is sad that this concert will be a black mark against us all Newfoundlanders, we are not all tarred with the same brush!

  • Glad that I missed it
    July 15, 2013 - 14:09

    Just look at that picture... ALL those people and I don't see a single smile on any face. That says it all! Every concert I've ever gone to had me beaming from ear to ear. I am glad I missed this one. I hope CFA's don't get the wrong impression of Newfoundland from this experience. No doubt, extreme heat, lack of water, and crowding would bring out the worst in anyone (yes, even Newfoundlanders)

  • Corporate Psycho
    July 15, 2013 - 14:07

    Pure and utter greed. GFW should be ashamed. Boycott next year people. Teach the promoters a lesson.

    • Concert Lover
      July 17, 2013 - 11:54

      I will give you credit for choosing an appropriate user name....corporate PSYCHO. GFW should be ashamed? Of what? The people of this beautiful peaceful town did nothing fact I rode around town Sunday morning only to see thousands of yards filled with campers trailers and tents.....our hospitality is alive and well thank you very much. As for concert bashing.....the ten people I went with and I all thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Each and every group performed fabulously and made my regular price ticket well worth the price of admission. Having said that, I am more than aware of the troubles some people had in the VIP go after the promoters, not the town or its people. Should you decide to return, I believe I speak for the townsfolk when I say that despite the bashing you have given us we will still welcome you back. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are of that same salt of the earth attitude.

  • Bob from town
    July 15, 2013 - 13:58

    Like many other concert goers I too was unhappy with the organization of this event. We all understand will large groups things can be challenging. But lets face it after this many concerts should be getting better not worst. Here's the problems I witnessed first hand. hour to get in. 2. One hour to get water. How about listening to peoples suggestions. 1. Double the gates and staff at the entrance (easy) 2. Beer section, have 4 water tents not one. Sell water tickets like food, that way staff can hand out water and not worry providing change. And last but not least. Have security at water line to prevent a_holes from butting in line!!! Hey its not rocket science, just plain old common sense!!!

    July 15, 2013 - 13:48

    What is meant in this article when Jack livingston of SRO says if the people would have moved liked we asked we wouldn't have had these problems. We were in VIP I never heard any announcements being made asking people to move ? I would like to tell of our experience. Like everyone else I bought VIP tickets with the understanding that there were only 2500 tickets and we wouldn't have to contend with the crowds re food concessions, water and beer and bathroom facilities. This turned out to be far from the case as we were more crowded than the people who bought regular tickets. Also we went to the concert grounds early when the gates opened so that we would get a space close to the stage - even though we knew we would not be able to leave and come back. Then when the time came close for the headline bands of Trajically Hip and Eagles to play - people started to push forward and come and stand in front of us. If someone went to the bathroom ( which took an hour to get through) other people would push there way through and stand in front of their chairs and take their space so that when they returned they were unable to get back to their chairs. There was three guys and a girl push there way through our area which we thought were trying to get back to their seats further up only to have them stop and stand directly in front of us. When we asked them to move as were blocking our view - I was told to F-----stand up - chairs shouldn't be at concert. Everyone in our area then tried to move forward so that no walkway to get out so that this wouldn't continue to happen. Later then we had more and more people trying to make their way in front. The place was totally congested. I had one person who pushed his way over chairs walking on clothes etc and stand in front of me where he was actually touching off me. When I asked him to move out of my space he was totally biligerent. and called out for his friend to join him saying lots of room - come on. During the remaining of the concerts he kept leaning back at me trying to get me to move back so that his friend could join him. When I refused to move he said if I was a man he'd lay me out. There was no security anywhere to address this situation. I agree with Debbie Dwight - this is not what I paid for and I believe someone should be held liable for the poor organization and false advertising of 2500 vip tickets. The performers were excellent.

  • Sam
    July 15, 2013 - 13:38

    With popular bands coming to NFLD you know the crowds are going to be huge, if I were to attend this festival I would bring a cooler of water just in case they run out, you know they would, there are so many people attending. I am sure more beer was sold than water. Newfoundland is a beautiful place with beautiful people. Just because you had one bad experience does not mean the province is shit, It just gives people the opportunity to bad mouth the province to make it look like shit, because the people are nice there.

  • Donna
    July 15, 2013 - 13:28

    Just imagine for Jack Livingston to blame it on the way people were moving he should not be allowed to organize anything in this province again and when the truth comes out about how many VIP tickets were really sold he should be held accountable for the GREED.I hope the people do get a class action suit on that CRAM. thankgod I just had regular tickets.

  • Michelle
    July 15, 2013 - 13:16

    It was pretty horrible. No water/no diet drinks just beer and Regular Pepsi. Pretty bad for someone who has a mother who is Diabetic. If anything happened to her we wouldn't of even been able to get help in the VIP section. At one point the vendors selling the water didn't even have change. We were told we needed the correct change or we had to leave the money left over with them because they wern't able to break a 5, 10, 20 ect. Rediculious. We paid more than $4 for a bottle of water. If someone had only a $5 bill they would of paid that. If someone only had $10 bill they would of paid that, unless they were able to get 2 bottles in which they still would of paid more than $4.

  • Ema
    July 15, 2013 - 13:00

    I too came from Ontario to see the Eagles as part of my holidays in Newfoundland. I have been listening to the radio and reading the news clippings about the Salmon Festival. I think the organizers need to admit that they screwed up and sold too many tickets for the VIP area. Issue an apology and learn from the complaints for next time. You had to be over 19 to get in the VIP area and the comment "a chair took up space for 4 people". How skinny did people have to be to attend the festival? Please don't belittle people like that! Another comment "Everything would have been OK if people had gotten out of the way". Why din't you have an established walkway that was manned by security to ensure there was a way to get around? Everybody bought tickets because they primarily wanted to see The Eagles and people bought VIP tickets because they were told there were only 2500 available. You have to be accountable for what you offer. All the entertainment was excellent and great choices by the organizers. I would never come back again unless I was ensured there were major changes.

  • Arizona Company
    July 15, 2013 - 12:57

    The better question here is why is an Arizona company running a concert in Newfoundland? Are we so prosperous now that we have to give jobs like this away to people in the southeastern United States?

    • Eli
      July 17, 2013 - 09:52

      Last time I was there Arizona was in the southwest.

  • Cuddlybear
    July 15, 2013 - 12:37

    Just because of the way a concert went which really isn't Newfoundland's fault it's the promoters fault. Your going to assume all of Newfoundland is bad? Just because of 1 concert?