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.