“They put us through hell”: behind the image of TomorrowWorld fail

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Photo courtesy of Cassie Foley

By the time Cassie Foley posted the photo that became the unofficially official image of TomorrowWorld outrage, her stuff was soaked, she’d waited for hours for a ride and she had shelled out unexpectedly for a hotel room.

And the worst was yet to come.

Cassie Foley

Cassie Foley

“They put us through hell,” Foley said in a Tuesday interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They won’t take ownership for what happened. They knew well in advance it was going to be raining. They knew how many people were coming. Their choices were very poor and their lack of action was even worse.”

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Cassie Foley's photo of girls sleeping in the mud has become the unofficially official image of TomorrowWorld festival goers' frustration.

The photo of girls sleeping in the mud has become the unofficially official image of TomorrowWorld festival goers’ frustration.

 

Organizers did not respond to a request for comment from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution but did post information on seeking refunds and a statement of regret on their official Facebook page. (For more about refunds, go to www.tomorrowworld.com/refund-policy.)

“We are heartbroken that we were not able to provide some of our precious fans with the full TomorrowWorld experience, which includes the complete journey to and from the festival,” the statement said. “The combination of your positive energy and our hard work did not shine through and we completely understand your dissatisfaction. TomorrowWorld was also let down by a number of external factors which did not allow us to provide you with the full experience you deserve.”

The mayor of Chattahoochee Hills, the south Fulton County city where the festival was held, this week promised a review of what went wrong after festivalgoers’ cars were all extricated.

“TomorrowWorld is looking for folks with tractors to help pull cars out of the mud,” Mayor Tom Reed said in a statement posted on the city’s website and since removed, presumably after everyone’s wheels were freed. He seemed none too impressed with organizers’ communications and logistics skills.

“The rain (compounded by serious promoter communication issues and transportation vendor failures) has obviously caused a mess,” Reed said. “A dissection of what went wrong, and a process to ensure it does not happen again, will follow.”

Foley would like a simple apology from TomorrowWorld.

“I know they can’t control the weather. I’m not mad at them for the mud,” she said. But she and other patrons have been lighting up the Internet with complaints beyond weather-related hiccups: of hideously overflowing portable restroom facilities, lax security and general disorganization.

After rain soaked their campsite on festival grounds Thursday, she and her boyfriend got a hotel room and Ubered back and forth to the TomorrowWorld electronic dance music festival attended by tens of thousands. It was an inaccessible mud pit by Saturday night, but after a long slog, they were able to make it to where cars and taxis were picking people up.

Then on Sunday, festival organizers announced no one could enter the grounds where many of Foley’s belongings were still drying out in the tent. She was finally able to retrieve her gear and head for home on Monday.

“It was really frustrating,” said Foley, who estimates she and her boyfriend spent more than $2,000 on the trip, a bottom line escalated by the unexpected hotel and Uber expenses. “We had truly saved up for this trip. I’d been extremely excited to go to this festival.”

Foley doesn’t know the two young women in her iconic photo, now serving as the banner for a Facebook page called “TomorrowWorld 2015 Sucks,” but said their plight seemed to encapsulate the festival’s shortcomings: “People paid $500 to experience that?”