Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who do the Voodoo like we do when you say "I do"?

Consider it a tempest in a teapot or a major maelstrom, but the Voodoo Music Experience (better known as "Voodoo Fest" to locals) is in danger of being sunk by four couples who have had the temerity to book weddings at City Park on the same Halloween weekend. In fairness to the four couples involved, Rehage Productions, the Voodoo Fest producers, decided to change their dates from the third weekend in October to the final weekend to take advantage of what they considered a better date. This year even more attendees are expected with headliners KISS expected to take the stage that weekend. The only problem was they forgot to mention this to the kindly folks at City Park where the event has been held very year since its inception with the exception of the year of Hurricane Katrina when a scaled-down version was held in Audubon Park. Rehage Productions has sponsored 50 events through the years at City Park and while that in itself shouldn't necessarily guarantee them more consideration, there is a lot at stake here. Meanwhile, the four couples booked their weddings at several venues inside the park and assuredly didn't expect to contend with high noise levels, excessive crowds, no parking and possible security breaches from outsiders wanting in on a good time (check out "Wedding Crashers" in case you don't know what I mean). City Park and the city generate many millions of dollars in revenue from the festival and it is considered every teenager and college-aged rocker's dream weekend of music and social consciousness. In its own way it is a rite of passage for young men and women similar on a smaller scale to what Woodstock was to my generation...only it happens every year. So, what to do? Some have suggested that Rehage Productions offers to pay for the costs of shifting the venues to another location, but I'm not so sure that all of the couples will agree to those conditions. It is still early enough, though, that they could change their wedding dates and venues, but there is always the possiblity they may lose deposits for bands to play their receptions or might have to be looking for replacements in case of double bookings. Also, what about purchasing plane tickets for guests? If someone already has a ticket in hand, they may have to rebook at $100 a crack. That's definitely not the best of options. Additionally, hotels may not have a block of rooms assigned to a wedding party on the weekend of Voodoo Fest. That's another problem. With so much money on the line, though, someone needs to start working out the details and try to mitigate the damage as much as possible. The City Park Board met Tuesday to consider the sticky problem, but no agreement is in sight. City Park chief operating officer Robert Becker feels it is not right to ignore signed contracts. I agree. It's not fair to ruin the wedding plans for these brides, but it's also impractical to think that four weddings could be the funeral for the Voodoo Fest.

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