Eden Fest: A Canadian Music Festival Failure for the Ages

Even with the hype, it looked promising: a multi-day festival as Mosport, about a hour east of Toronto. I remember announcing the lineup on the radio with great excitement: Bush, Live, Porno for Pyros, Catherine Wheel, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sloan, Live and a whack more.  And who were these rumoured “special guests?” Guesses ranged from Green Day (a favourite right until things closed down on the Sunday) to Pearl Jam (who were supposedly going to helicopter in unannounced.)

I was there both days and had a great time. Yet there was a feeling of tension in the air, a nuance that something wasn’t quite right.

The reality was much different. Eden Fest was a disaster. What was supposed to have become an annual event evaporated in unpaid bills, angry fans and an FBI raid involving a $2 million extortion attempt against a US bank.

Daniel Gerichter wrote this remembrance for AUX-TV.

As the Bonnaroo-related ‘HomeAway’ festival comes to Ontario, we hope it learns from Eden’s FBI raids, no-shows, and garbage fires.

Ontario’s recently announced large-scale, multi-day, camping-centric, Bonnaroo-related music and arts festival “HomeAway” is receiving loads of hype, even if it’s best to remember that the last festival of its design and size in Ontario didn’t exactly go so well.

FBI raids, headliner no-shows, garbage fires: 1996’s Eden Music Fest may have had the very best of intentions, but after some serious mismanagement by its organizers, low ticket sales, and an underwhelming lineup, it may be the reason we haven’t had a festival like it since.

Back then, Coachella and Bonnaroo weren’t even on the radar yet. Eighteen years ago, weekend-long affairs like Glastonbury and Reading were exclusive to Europe. And no matter how much we pined for our own, it was just a fantasy. But then one May afternoon, CFNY’s Alan Cross let us know our time had finally come.

Promoted by Buffalo startup Eden Entertainment, Eden Music Fest promised a weekend of camping and partying at Clarington’s Mosport Speedway. Headliners were announced as the Tragically Hip, the Cure, and a third mystery act. Ontario had never seen a festival of this magnitude before.

Keep reading.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Eden Fest: A Canadian Music Festival Failure for the Ages

  • January 20, 2015 at 12:18 pm
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    My best memory from Eden Fest was watching a guy in a drunken stupor stumble down a hill, picking up speed until he smashed face first into a porta-potty. That and the Cure.

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  • January 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm
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    that was a truly awesome weekend that I’ll never forget!
    I’ve heard that nobody got paid (including artists) after the organizer took off with the cash…

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  • January 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm
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    you know, it’s funny – I constantly hear of that weekend being “a disaster” (and I get why if you look at it from an organiser’s perspective) but for those of us who attended, it was a massively good time, and nowhere near a disaster from our point of view.

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  • July 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm
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    I have to agree with the above “rivum”. That weekend we were oblivious to any FBI raids or fires. The music was fantastic and I have nothing but awesome memories. The only bad memory was the misleading surprise 3rd headliner act. It was my first time going anywhere other Niagara Falls in Canada. And I fell in love with that country almost immediately.

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  • October 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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    it was a great time and place to be in 96 it was great when they were crashing the golf cart I remember a girl painted blue came up and just cam up and kissed me that was the summer of drugs the best bands of the 90s were there

    Reply

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