The Blissfest Festival has been ongoing in Emmet County for 38 years. Through the years, there have been a number of issues raised about the annual festival, especially from people who live close to the festival grounds. In 2002, a Consent Judgment was entered resolving various claims between the County and Blissfest. Included in the Consent Judgment were provisions for the maximum amount of tickets that could be sold for the festival. The Consent Judgment was later amended in September 2013 to allow for an increase in the number of tickets sold for a Saturday only use.
The Blissfest Music Festival Committee met on June 28, 2018. This is a committee set up by the provisions of the Consent Judgment. The minutes of that meeting are attached. On the second page of those minutes, Mr. Jim Gillespie from the Blissfest organization stated that Blissfest was selling an additional 300 tickets for Sunday only. Mr. Engel, Civil Counsel for Emmet County, questioned the legality as the Consent Judgment only provided for additional Saturday sales, not Sunday. Mr. Gillespie stated that it was his “interpretation” that because some people leave on Sunday, he could sell additional tickets for Sunday.
This year, Blissfest sold out all 4,500 weekend tickets. Hence, there were no tickets available for Sunday. Blissfest unilaterally decided to sell additional Sunday tickets without seeking the permission of the Planning Commission or amending the Consent Judgment. Blissfest knew the procedure to ask for additional ticket sales for a Sunday since only five years ago, it requested an increase for Saturday and was granted the same.
Discussions between the parties could not resolve the issue at such a late date. Because of the clear violation of the Consent Judgement, Blissfest is not honoring the Sunday only tickets they sold, and is refunding the money to the purchasers of those tickets.
The Blissfest Music Organization has published a statement that it is refunding 263 paid Sunday day tickets, but appears to place the blame on the County of Emmet. Blissfest clearly is not within the “spirit and letter of the Consent Judgment” as it has never had authority to sell Sunday only tickets.
Blissfest never made a request to Emmet County to sell Sunday only tickets. The county is merely abiding by the existing agreement between the parties.
For more information, contact John Calabrese, Emmet County Administrator