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Fyre Festival founder: "This is the worst day of my life; we were a little naïve"

He promises a make up date in 2018 and has plans to return "next year"

  • Valerie Lee
  • 29 April 2017

In 24 hours since the inaugural Fyre Festival opened its hypothetical doors in Exuma, a district in the Bahamas, the event has made headlines and history as one of the most disastrous attempts to throw a music festival.

The festival, which had price tags upwards of several thousands of dollars and included promises of chartered private planes and luxurious beachside villas, ended up being a deep disappointment for its attendees who arrived to a barren sandy plot of ground with a few simple tents set up and barely edible food before being kicked off the island after the event was cancelled.

Founder of the festival Billy MacFarland, a 25-year old who partnered with rapper Ja Rule on the event, has come forward with an official statement to Rolling Stone, attempting to apologize and claiming that he plans to "start earlier next year" and offering up a make up date in 2018 to those that were unlucky enough to purchase tickets to Fyre this time around.

Read the full statement below.

"Today is definitely the toughest day of my life. I'd love the opportunity to go through and tell my story of how we got here and how I see it now and where it's going.

I was a computer programmer, and after computers, the two things I love most are the ocean and, for some reason, rap music. So these three hobbies of mine somehow led me to meeting my partner, Ja Rule. Together, we became friends and business partners. For us, it was always a battle of pushing the limits. Once we got flying lessons together, we got on these really bad 40-year-old planes and flew from New York to the Bahamas – not really knowing the Bahamas very well – ran out of gas and landed in the Exumas and both of us immediately fell in love.

We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that's when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit.

The Exumas didn't have a really great infrastructure – there wasn't a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn't water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites.

The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, "Wow, we can't do this." We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn't have the foresight to solve all these problems.

We made sure all guests got a place to stay and had a really long conversation overnight last night after everyone was housed about what to do next and realized we couldn't risk the safety challenges. So that was the decision that we made — the first thing for us was making sure all these guests get refunded [and] all the vendors get taken care of. All the guests are going home, the refunds are being processed.

The weather unfortunately delayed flights and made them run into each other in terms of being close to when a lot of people were arriving. That was unfortunately something we had no control of, but it made things unacceptable for guests and we feel bad for it.

We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren't experienced enough to keep up.

Everybody who wants to go home is being sent home tonight. Some of the guests who are staying in private homes, we're asking them to stay longer, if they can. We're going to take every measure to make this right for everybody now, and make this right for everybody next year, on a large scale.

There will be make-up dates, May 2018 in the U.S., free for everybody who signed up for this festival. We will donate $1.50 [per ticket] to the Bahamian Red Cross. It'll keep the theme of being on water and beach. It'll be not just music, but all forms of entertainment. The one change we will make is we will not try to do it ourselves. We will make sure there is infrastructure in place to support us."

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