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Insight: Festival Chaos Should Have Been Avoided

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A photograph of Fyre Festival passengers stranded at the airport in Great Exuma early on Friday posted on Twitter

The Fyre Festival organisers showed great disrespect in clashing with the beloved and traditional regatta in Exuma, Robert Dupuch Carron says

Since the wee hours of Friday morning, Bahamians from all walks of life have been venting their anger at the astounding level of disrespect displayed by the shambolic organisation and incompetence displayed by the Fyre Festival organisers, all whilst left scratching their heads in disbelief that our Ministry of Tourism would aid and abet such efforts during Exuma Regatta week.

If reports from those who met with the Fyre Festival folks are to be believed, the organisers were warned their schedule was far too ambitious and that they lacked the necessary experience required to overcome the logistical challenges of executing an event on such a remote island as Norman's Cay- the beautiful former hideaway of notorious Colombian Cocaine kingpin Carlos 'Joe' Lehder.

In addition co-pronoter Billy McFarland was strongly recommended to enlist the talents of Bahamians who had expertise in pulling off similar sized international events like Jamzfest, P Diddy, Junkanoo Carnival, Lady Gaga and Beres Hammond.

While the Fyre Festival chose to ignore such sound advice, a gaggle of genetically-blessed, bikini-clad models - Alessandra Ambrosio, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratajkowski, Elsa Hosk, and Paulina Vega - shamelessly promoted the #fyrefestival coming to a Bahamian private island called Fyre Cay (real name Norman's Cay) to their legions of fans and social media followers worldwide.

They informed them that the festival would be "packed with music, culture, art, food, and more than $1 million in real treasure and jewels hidden on the island" with tickets ranging from a basic $450 to a mind boggling $250,000 for a VIP Experience. Sadly this utopia ended up a far cry from the truth according to every report we have obtained.

Instead of rescheduling the event, the Fyre Festival organisers decided to switch from tiny Norman's Cay to George Town, situated on much larger Great Exuma.

Like many a doomed ship, these foreign organisers took the ill- advised decision to ignore the dire warnings from many Bahamians and instead set sail on a course which would invariably place themselves on a collision course with the Exuma Regatta and the Bahamian populace.

Sadly the Fyre Festival failed to appreciate the historic significance of the Exuma Regatta Week.

If the Fyre Festival felt overwhelmed by the logistical problems it was experiencing on Norman's Cay, these matters would look like child's play in comparison to the nightmare that was about to explode on Great Exuma given that all hotel rooms, buses, taxis and majority of the rental houses had been booked years in advance for the famous George Town Regatta.

In desperation the Fyre Festival organisers are reported to have inquired if the Exuma Regatta could be rescheduled, lending credence to what Piers Morgan recently described as a US culture of 'rich, publicity craving, materialistic, talentless, self absorbed, social media fanatics' who arrogantly believe they can do as they please.

As if that is not enough, the ensuing fiasco shows what happens when you waltz into a sovereign nation - demanding that your wishes be catered to - simply because you believe you have a few dollars in your pocket or a trust fund.

The ensuing media circus and ire surrounding the Fyre Festival ended up being best described as a "complete train wreck" by festival goers.

While paying guests were told they could expect to stay in 'modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes' the super-rich had the option of upgrading to hire yachts for more than $100,000 says the Daily Mail of London.

But those who expected to be pampered with luxurious VIP service likened the accommodations to disaster zone relief tents, where they had to search in the dark for their luggage, towels and toilet paper for the Porter-a-Pots.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) described the festival in glowing terms. 'Instead of $250,000 luxury oceanfront accommodations, 'pop up' five star culinary experiences, people found shelter in half built tent cities alongside feral dogs, locked up in the international departure lounge of Exuma Airport or 'luxury food court' nothing more than people sitting on folding chairs.

Adding injury to insult, the same Z list celebrities whose loyal followers and fans were not given advance notice of "kinks in the festival" were now left stranded - being fed slabs of cheese on sad white bread while the promised recording artists and security failed to appear, added the BBC.

Instead they shamelessly posted photos of themselves lounging by the pool of top Miami South Beach hotels or showcasing new scantily clad outfits, instead of heading to Exuma to assist.

For a government whose manifesto was putting Bahamians first it is unfathomable that the Ministry of Tourism did not have the foresight to step in and prevent such a colossal disconnect, avoiding the ensuing global public relations nightmare.

Clearly the promoters of the Fyre Festival seemed oblivious as to how offensive their conduct would be viewed by the Bahamian populace and how they had now "yucked up our vexation".

In the end, the vast majority of Exumians have expressed ire that the festival was attempting to usurp their beloved Regatta by directly competing for the visiting tourists and locals with scantily clad wannabe models, NFL stars and recording acts.

Lets put this into perspective. Imagine for a minute if thousands of Bahamians in Junkanoo costumes, with cowbells, goat skin drums, Bacardi, Heneiken, Kalik and Sands Beer in tow, descended upon Palm Springs demanding all hotel rooms, guest houses, taxi, buses and RV parks - which had already been booked in advance - informing the citizens that we ain't checking for Coachella this year we "Jammin' Island Style"?

Clearly the Minister of Tourism needs to provide answers to the nation as to how such a matter was allowed to develop without anyone in his Ministry having the foresight to say "Hold on fellas! Love the concept but we have an issue with the dates?"

The sad reality is our nation is once again left to pick up the pieces with a backhanded apology from the Fyre Festival and some lame future promise of compensation.

If Ja Rule wanted to show some real testicular fortitude we would be delighted to welcome him back next year on his own and assist him in partnering with the right individuals to successfully execute what could be such a wonderful concept for our Bahamaland.

• Robert Dupuch Carron is president of The Tribune Media Group. Comments and responses to insight@tribunemedia.net

Comments

jusscool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Did Tal write this article? Wow!

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bahamas12345 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The MOT doesn't have time to answer any questions cause they to busy trying to hide the monies that they received. And Normans Cay? Where would they have stayed there? There can only be half a dozen or more places to stay.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"The organisers were again advised to reschedule the event to avoid competing with the famous 60 and more-year-old Georgetown regatta; one of the few times each year during which many Exumians - across all walks of life - can make a good bit of change."

I don't understand why this was just "advice". A concert like this needs permits. These island communities can only sustain a certain number of people at any given time. All it would take was for one of these MOT reps, who now backing up faster than Bolt, to say, "you can't get a permit for that weekend", and poof problem gone. "How many people are coming and where are the rooms booked?". I think MOT dropped the ball on this one. This is looking just like the Junkanoo carnival "change the date for a rally" decision. I wonder if the same person ok'd this. Did someone take money to overlook all of the issues?

Guess what, it een Jah Rule who name getting drag through the mud, it's "The Bahamas", there's no "we weren't a part of this" on this one. The Bahamas is a major stakeholder. Unfortunate.

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Porcupine 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Please Tribune.... Is this a real article? Or is it a fake comment? Piers Morgan? Are you for real? A notable intellectual? Who allowed these musicians to run roughshod over The Bahamas? Who can't seem to reign in the murderers, the criminals, can't figure out how to raise the education level above a D-? Foreign musicians? Jeez. Is it really possible that we Bahamians can criticize another country for their "culture"? Have you not driven through Nassau? Do you not see the filth, the homeless, the lack of courtesy on the roads? Any person who interacts with The Ministry of Tourism understands how far we have to go as a nation. Perhaps, this is the problem here. We do not take ownership of our utter failures. It is always "the other" who has sullied our reputation, caused our problems, infected our culture. The Bahamas could begin the reversal of our obvious national and social decline by accepting and acknowledging the truth. Looking in the mirror, so to speak. This opinion does nothing to help us along the road to reality.

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DDK 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I actually think the "Piers Morgan" comment is very apropos. Just take a look at their President!

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Porcupine 1 month, 3 weeks ago

And, look a Perry Christie........better?

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Clamshell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

A most excellent commentary. Bravo. But as the story has been reported in the U.S., it doesn't seem that anybody with any sense is blaming the Bahamas -- rather the absolutely clueless, brain-dead "celebrities" who think the Bahamas is just an extension of Miami Beach and they can organize a major event just by gassing about it on social media.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Ask those people if they're coming back to "the Bahamas" again

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SamF 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yeah. That's the biggy. Doesn't matter what or how it happened.

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SamF 1 month, 3 weeks ago

As an American who loves the Bahamas I feel for you. Months ago I saw the hype about such a festival and figured it had to be a scam. No way, (Norman Cay at the time) was going to support such an event. And the details were so sketchy. Your MOT really really dropped the ball on this one when they allowed it to run with the regatta. It's too bad as it gives your tourism trade a bad taste.

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We approved this mess and weeks and days before our officials could see this was a disaster , but too many of local government had contracts for busing etc ,,we did what we always do took the money ..It will be interesting to see who got the big contracts for the NEMA tents etc ..I saw who got the contracts etc ,,and who ,which MP approved this for Regatta week , they had to get approval ..As another poster said ,our problem is we never take responsibility for anything ,in public ,governance or our private lives

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I bet those came from the unforgettable Chinese riot gear gift.

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Gotoutintime 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I guess they didn't pay off the right people!

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

WTH ,,Mr Carron we showed disrespect for our own people by approving it .Who wrote this Bradley Roberts ..Come on Robert

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

From the BBC:

Statement from Billy McFarland and Jah Rule: "The pair said 'Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival....Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up'. The statement says that the infrastructure on the island wasn't there and they "tried" to build it themselves. They installed waste and water management, as well as bringing ambulances from New York"

So the Bahamas doesn't have a proper sanitation system now? See why the MOT "it wasn't our fault" falls flat?

From an attendee: "He claims he and other fans spent hours "locked" inside the island's airport with some collapsing from exhaustion and heat. 'A guy just passed out in the airport because it's so hot since they locked us in. The guards just got into it with some guys'"

Pass out from the heat and locked in the airport? That part on the Bahamas

McFarland and Jah Rule "All festival goers this year will be refunded in full.... Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year's festival" What next year?

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

A blind man could of seen a week out this was a disaster . first who approved it for regatta week ,,,next .local government weren,t checkin some of them had contracts ,, the fully staffed MOT on the island must of saw something different than us ,,and the MP was out there days before ,,and enviromental health ?? Someone should have stood up and saved up some dignity and bad press and pulled the permit

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Especially since it was reported in multiple magazines.

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

From what I have read, this was supposed to be held on Norman's Cay. Even if Norman's Cay is inhabited, the infrastructure would not be enough to support thousands of concertgoers. How could the organizers promise cabanas and luxury accommodations when they weren't even aware that the infrastructure was lacking? Since they provided renderings of the would be cabanas, they had some idea of what was involved from the start. The truth is they focused too much on marketing and waited until the last minute to get things done. It sounds like they were also relying on ticket revenue to get these things done. According to one attendee, and unfortunately for them, most of the tickets sold were for the $3k base package and not the other horrendously priced options.

Locked in the airport, or maybe the airport was filled to capacity and no one else could be let in for safety reasons perhaps? What would be the point of locking them in the airport?

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yeah they got locked in, there's a video of a security guard putting a big chain on the door, if this stuff wasn't on video I'd believe it was all some giant prank...actually I'm still wondering. Wake me up when we get to Kansas.

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I am not saying that the door was not locked, just that there was likely a logical reason for doing so such as the airport being at full capacity. No doubt the RBDF was there to ensure order, and not to wrongfully imprison irate tourists.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I hope there was a reason, lol. But if you went to the US, (not even some place behind God's back) and they bolted you in a room with no A/C and no food, what would you be thinking? Oh, it's ok, they're just watching out for my safety, I hope that lock holds. And look, they brought in the military to watch us too, and they have guns. I mean this thing is hilarious..if it weren't so serious....I'm 100% certain we're going to find out someone took some outside money for this

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is almost as funny as when Banker tell Reality "hello mudda". I still laughing.

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Well, if I were part of a group that included members that were alleged to have threatened to burn down the island and were involved looting, why yes, I would have a very antagonistic view of law enforcement and their actions. The fact that they were frustrated added to how they viewed any actions as antagonistic toward them, and that is if they didn't already have condescending and preconceived notions about law enforcement in 3rd world countries. Also, there was a snack machine in the image so I don't know about the no food and water bit. While I speculate on plausible reasons why this was done, you cant seem to come up with anything other than feeding into hysteria. Angry people are the most rational and should be believed without question right?

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So 10 people threatened to burn down the island and they locked everyone in?

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Once again, I am simply speculating on reasons why they might have done that. However, panicked and angry concertgoers reacting as if RBDF is in cahoots with the organizers to further disenfranchise them is true hilarity. We don't know how many reports of threats and unrest were received, so until proven otherwise, as always, I will trust that law enforcement acted in the interest of maintaining order.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Ok great. I'm saying, no matter how we on the island see this as "reasonable", the cameras will interpret it as "OMG!!!!", they did what?? For example, there was a report of "feral dogs" running through the camps. Yes they're talking about poor pot cakes just looking for food, "to us", to the international news, they're "feral dogs".

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yeh, not being use to strays they must have thought it was dogs being sicked on them in the concentration camp.

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I don't know what to make of your random reference, but okay, at least you take time out to laugh cause with all your sky is falling episodes, it sure does not come across that way.

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DDK 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Possibly an Immigration idea for some convoluted or even legitimate reason??? The locked door is hazardous and probably illegal on some basic level.

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Cas0072 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It should be pretty easy to find out if it is legal or not. I mean laws of The Bahamas are available online. Secondly, with someone stationed near the door, presumably with a key, it is not quite a hazard now is it? Do you not ever see this happening at businesses around closing time where the last of the patrons are locked in and let out as they wrap up their business? Schools and businesses also go on lock down for safety reasons when deemed necessary, so it really is a judgement call.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Public buildings should have at least two exits...I could be wrong but I think that's fire code...all of these excuses are great, but people realize this should have been managed better by local officials

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

They claimed to be attacked by locals ( who couldn't get anywhere near) and chased by strays, so this would have been for their safety.

Or a new way of locking up the 1%'s trust funds : D

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afewfacts 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The locked door in the video is the airline gate/exit to the tarmac. Locking and chaining it was probably the best decision of the whole debacle, considering the departure lounge was full of angry, tired, cheated attendees who had probably spent too long in the sun drinking free rum before it ran out.

Unfortunately the international news organizations have reported everything about this verbatim from twitter and reddit, where the internet trolls sitting at home in the US decided to spice things up on thursday night with all sorts of false and malicious claims agains local residents (looting, detention, violence, feral dogs, sharks... the list goes on). No due diligence at all in the so-called reporting. And where are the basic facts... how many people actually arrived? how many were scheduled to arrive? These are not hard to discern - just check the number of swift/charters that were scheduled or arrived. Looks like 6 or 8 plane 737 planes at most arrived on Thursday.... that's at most 1000 people.

Funny that there seem to only be a couple of dozen photos and videos of the event in circulation, given the number of cameras in attendance. There was someone one photo of a few attendees making the best of it on the beach friday morning. "it could be better in the bahamas", but easier to gripe and complain.

The never ending talk of the cost ("up to 250000") also fails to take into account that most paid 1500 or less. How this was going to pay for infrastructure and band fees, in addition to flights, food, etc is anyone's guess. A weekend trip from miami with flight, basic accommodation, food and ground transport easily runs >$1500 without the music festival, or the need to procure mattresses(!) for each attendee.

Hopefully the aftermath of this is not left on the local government - the "organizers" better be held responsible to deal with their detritus... but if they are actually refunding the attendees, can't imagine that will happen.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Where is Obie in all of this?????? .......... Was he in on the deal (like Fitzie and Shame)?????

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We're thes your regatta clients ? Noooooo so shut the hell up. Y'all ain't ready.

Blew a whole new industry. It was up to the company to charter and accommodate the all inclusive event. Sounds like vendors were jealous they couldn't have both events. Well welcome to big business, if you're lucky enough to bend one , then you don't expect to take on the other.

Stupid for people to be lashing out as if anyone blasted Bahamains. Sometimes the ignorance is just unbearable and damaging.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Uhhhhh hello , the Music Festival wasn't for raw bone! A Coechella would have made Exuma straight for life.

If MOT pressured Exuma organizers and ignored turning it over to actual Major Production professionals, then why didn't those who recommended other locals simply outsource the management themselves or put them on to Fyre organizers!

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Meanwhile the US Embassy will clearly be MOT's new competition. Kiss inclusive growth goodbye.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

And if you don't know the market behind social influencers , don't run your trap. The reason everyone is struggling here is because they ignore marketing. You have no idea how much earnings were to come from their product placements, btw some of your products. Those "wannabes" have sponsors that probably paid.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I was thinking about it earlier and I said maybe this will be a good lesson for people to start using their brains rather than listening to anyone with a camera. Years ago they used to call it fast talkin'

That aside the MOT shouldn't have allowed it to go on during the festival, (not a fear thing) it should have been clear that the private island wasn't going to be ready. A technocrat could have given a good estimate for the buildout time required. and Exuma proper wouldn't have the resources to spare. Too much public health concerns in limbo, too much to lose if everything went wrong.

100% certain this will boil down to greed from some local "social influencer", i.e. corrupt government official with "minister" in their title

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The last people that you want to be saying the Bahamas is a horrible experience is persons with millions of followers and all agreeing with each over it on the net.

More than attempting to defend the location to individuals, local production organizers have to get MOT to share these things with them and do some positive advertising for event hosting.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I've heard a number of people suggest that no foreign promoter should be able to come in without a partnership with a local production company. But we so corrupt they'd mess that system up too. Next thing you know Shane Gibson is an event promoter and Fitzgerald begging for gig. Watch him, watch him ah Mr fast talkin. lol

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I had a suggested a market entry guide with business matchmaking some time ago. That's to say everything arriving should scope who to work with here!

But officials dominate all the contracting.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"The end result is that, for the vast majority of Exumians, the festival appeared as if it was attempting to usurp our beloved George Town Regatta by directly competing for the visiting tourists and locals with scantily-clad, wannabe models, NFL stars and recording acts."

That type of fear has to stop. Time and time again local monopolist hide their counterintuitive sabotage tactics behind "poor vendors and deprived local hire". Like Pablo Escobars themselves. That's when you got your business from drugs. It's a repeat of Bimini Superfast Ferry vs Bimin's own, Euthera protesting Disney's egg island because they get their own tourists, fear mongering against advocacy on opening Cuba.

Exuma Regatta operators clearly didn't even read Fyres site to realize Regatta. Tourists are simply tourists, there's different types of tourists and channels. These ones wanted to be in glamorized tents and use porter potties for $12,000, not blow through conch shells and drop crabs off their heads. Regatta didn't invite the instagrammers and Fyre didn't invite regatta revelers. There was no turf war! Fyre was exclusive to elites and not even advertised to your leads. O yeh, it was never intended to be annual but a launchpad location like many other premier destination events.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I'm sure you could have told Fyre that Exuma Regatta is second to Junkanoo instead of letting the milllenials fall into a shit pile.

A number were kids of the biggest names and are probably too embarrassed to say they were there starving.

Cold.

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Chucky 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This just shows how pathetic our nation and people have become. There is so much uproar over this concert, yet everyone silent on all issues relating to the failure of our State.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Not true at all. And this FESTIVAL may have been money directly in the hans of locals, calculate that. It equals less reliance on government to get things done.

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