The Fyre Festival promised us it would be one of the biggest events of our generation and it certainly lived up to the hype in one regard: it was one epic disaster.
Fyre Festival’s sleek and well funded marketing boasted an exclusive luxury festival experience on a private island inhabited by super models and influencers. Guests paid upwards of $12,000 per ticket package. The “VIP” event was to have celebrity chefs, eco-chic villas, and private jets.
But when concert go-ers arrived on the scene of the not-so-private-island to find left over hurricane shelters instead of villas with not enough food, water, or accommodations and no transportation means to leave, it turned into what has been described as a scene from Lord of the Flies or Hunger Games.
Both Netfilx and Hulu have put out documentaries detailing the mayhem surrounding the festival: Fyre Fraud (Hulu)and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix). [WARNING: both documentaries contain some adult content.]
One of the more egregious parts of the story is the Bahamian locals who were hired to help put the festival on but were never paid. One such person was Maryann Rolle, who runs the Exuma Point Bar & Grill. Maryann was hired as a caterer and made herself and staff available around the clock for the Fyre Media staff leading up to the event and then during the chaotic first days. Exuma Point even hosted attendees when the festival wasn’t ready for arrivals. Maryann and her staff did not receive payment for their service, food, and accommodations.
Maryann believed the Fyre Festival would bring in jobs and annual revenue to her beloved country. Instead she had to use her own life savings of $50,000 to pay her staff. Fyre Media has not compensated her or issued a personal apology.
But thanks to compassionate people who aren’t content waiting for Fyre Media to right their wrongs (Billy McFarland, co-founder of the Fyre Festival, has been sentenced to six years in prison and three years probation; he also will have to pay restitution of just more than $26 million. NPR) a GoFundMe page has been set up for Maryann.
“As I make this plea it’s hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid…I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest. My only resource today is to appeal for help.”
While the carnage of Fyre Festival is justifiably upsetting, we take heart in the fact that thousands of people have helped give Maryann’s story a happy ending.
Sources: NPS, Hulu / Images: NPR, ABC, Hulu, YouTube